By Hannah Torregoza
Former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief and incumbent Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong clarified that he was not harboring any personal gripe against Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief General Oscar Albayalde when he decided to testify before the Senate on the operations of alleged “ninja” cops.
Magalong made the clarification after the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee concluded its seventh hearing into the alleged involvement of some police officials in the “agaw-bato” scheme and the so-called “ninja” cops involved in the recycling of illegal drugs seized in legitimate anti-drug operations.
Magalong testified that Albayalde tried to intervene when he asked Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino not to dismiss the 13 police officers who were involved in the recycling of drugs in Mexico, Pampanga in 2013.
Aquino, who was also present during the hearing, confirmed that Albayalde called him up, but said it was only to inquire about the status of the case of grave misconduct that was filed against the 13 policemen who were Albayalde’s subordinates when he was director of the Pampanga Provincial Police Office.
“Sabi ko nga sa inyo, this is not a clash of classes, this is not a clash of generals. Wala. I have nothing against him,” Magalong told reporters in an interview after the hearing.
“Please understand that I did not volunteer to appear here. I did not even expect what questions would be asked of me. I was just answering questions that were thrown at me,” he pointed out.
In a separate interview also after the hearing, Albayalde said he noticed that Magalong’s statements against him were getting personal that made him wonder what his beef was with the former police general.
“I really don’t know. Probably this has something to do with my retirement. Seemingly, ang mga statements ni Magalong are personal already. Kita ng taumbayan kung paano.. he’s even taking words from the mouth of Gen. Aquino,” he said.
Albayalde said there was no way he could influence the outcome of the decision on the 13 policemen when he was the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief since he can never influence an upper classman.
“Remember Gen. Aquino is class 85; you can never influence an upper class. Remember, I was just a one-star general then,” Albayalde said.
“Nakita niyo naman ang sinabi ni Gen. Aquino, he was confused and he doesn’t know why Gen. Magalong is talking in his stead. Let him talk, I think Gen. Aquino has his own decision and again, even if I called him it’s all for the status of the case. It’s all normal, anybody or any commander, the families of these policemen will come to you and will ask for your help to solve their problem,” Albayalde said.
The PNP chief also wondered why Magalong did not see to it that his subordinates were dismissed when he was the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM).
“I think this was not answered by Gen. Magalong. When he had all the power, the authority, the connections, even the influence. Probably, why did they not implement the dismissal of these people?” Albayalde pointed out.
Albayalde also pointed out that the “ninja cops” did not thrive during his time, but during the time of Magalong.
“Remember, it is during their time, when he was the director of CIDG and asked him ano ang naging accomplishment niya with this ‘ninja cops’ thing. Yun bang tinira nya ang kanyang tao na si Rey Dado? When he raided his own man during his time? Again, bakit si Rey Dado was not dismissed from the service and he never charged him with an administrative case when as far as the verification goes, that was in 2014 also,” he pointed out.
But Magalong said Albayalde’s insinuations against him was “the most convenient alibi.” “Napakagandang alibi yun ah. The most convenient alibi; I have nothing against him,” he reiterated.
“Eto lang, let’s concentrate on this particular issue na ito: ano talaga ang nangyari dun. Yan ang di niya masagot. Every time napag-uusapan natin yun, lalayo yung sagot eh. Tingnan niyo, layo ng sagot. Sagutin niya kung ano talaga ang nangyari diyan,” he pointed out.
“As far as anti-drug operations are concerned, believe me, I’ve done all without any mental reservations. Marami dyan magsasabi sa PNP, pero hindi ako plastic dito. Eto totoong laban ito. Hindi yung may tinatago ako, dahil galit ako sa (drug) pusher, (I expect so many from the PNP would say it, but I am not plastic. This is a real fight. I am not hiding anything, because I am also mad at drug pushers),” he stressed.
Magalong, likewise said he hopes that the hearing on Thursday (October 3) would be the last on the issue. The former CIDG chief admitted that the hearings have taken a toll on him and his family.
“Sa akin I hope tapos na sana. I hope Thursday would be the last hearing. Alam niyo madami rin trabaho ang mayor. Malaking distraction ito. Madami din akong ginagawa, (I hope this ends. I hope Thursday would be the last hearing. You know a mayor also has a lot of work to do. This is a big distraction. I also have my hands full),” he pointed out.
“Ako, nakikusap ako kay Sen. (Richard) Gordon, na sana after the hearing on Thursday, sana kung sakaling may succeeding hearing, wag na sana akong isama dahil ang dami namin dapat gawin sa Baguio, (I’m appealing to Sen. Gordon, that I hope after the hearing on Thursday, if ever there is a succeeding hearing, not to include me anymore because we have a lot of things to do in Baguio),” the mayor also said.