By Rizal Obanil
Former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief and now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said that although he has no hard evidence against Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde, he believes that the police official has a lot of explaining to do.
“If you’re asking me if I have hard evidence, I don’t have against Oscar Albayalde. I don’t have, pero kung titingnan mo naman yung circumstances. Unahin natin muna yung actual incident. You’re the provincial director, you were informed about these anti-drug operation one week ahead, of the actual operations. Ongoing yung operation, hindi ba blow by blow account mino-monitor mo?” Magalong said in an interview over CNN Philippines hosted by Pinky Webb.
“Anong nangyari na? O it’s a big operation with 36.68 kilos na seizure. Ang normal na nangyayari dyan is pupunta ka sa lugar. And ang mga instruction mo dyan ay secure the crime scene, make sure that everything is documented. Nasan na yung nahuli? Constant yan na communication, constant yan na communication pero parang in this particular case walang ganun na nangyari.” Magalong said when asked on the possible culpability of Albayalde, of then Pampanga provincial director Albayalde in the controversial drug raid in 2013.
Magalong said the way Albayalde handled the operation, considering that it was a big one, “doesn’t follow the natural course of things as commander.”
“Was there command and control? Was there situational awareness? Very loose, very loose. Pinabayaan mo lang yung mga tao ang you’re relying on mere spot report. E anlaking insidente. So kita mo, it doesn’t follow the natural course of things as a commander. It doesn’t. And then suddenly may ongoing investigation, may dismissal order, hindi na-execute yung dismissal order,” he said.
He said that what is said about what happened a few years after they conducted an investigation on the matter is that some of the police officers who were part of the raiding team are now occupying sensitive positions.
“After a few years, naging demotion, tapos naibalik yung mga tao. Now they’re occupying sensitive positions. May intelligence officer, merong acting chief of police or officer-in-charge. So makikita mo it just doesn’t make sense to me. (…One’s an intelligence, while another’s an acting chief of police or officer-in-charge…) Magalong said.
Although his revelations have had a damaging effect on Albayalde’s reputation, Magalong said that he is not after the chief PNP.
“I’m not attacking his character. I’m not attacking his background, his service reputation. I don’t do that. Let’s just focus on this particular incident,” he said.
However, he believes that Albayalde has a lot of explaining to do. “He has to explain. Alam mo ba kung anong nangyari? Tapos yung series of events parang may ibig sabihin e.” (Did you really know what happened. Then the series of events that happened after seem to mean something.)
To those who question the timing and the credibility of his revelations, Magalong explained that he did not volunteer to speak at the Senate hearing.
He explained that Senator Franklin Drilon merely asked him a question, and he answered it because he did not want to be cited for contempt.
Regarding the credibility of the investigation which they conducted Magalong said: “Alam mo ang dami naming witnesses no? Barangay officials, nandun yung mga security guards, executives ng security agency. Very credible ‘to. They are disinterested persons. Ano naman ang mawawala sa kanila kung magsabi sila ng totoo? So very credible, very consistent yung kanilang mga sworn statements at kung titingnan mo na lang between itong statement nitong operating troops at itong mga witnesses ay makikita mo yung consistency at nagja-jive. Ibig sabihin e nagcocorroborate, unlike ito (statement from operating troops) makikita mo kaagad na may itinatago.”
(We had a lot of witnesses, the barangay officials, security guards who were there, executive of the security agency. This is very credible… What do they stand to lose for speaking the truth. The sworn statements when you look at the statement from our witnesses and that of the operating troops, you can see that they just jive together. This means it was very corroborative as compared to that of the operatives, which you can clearly see that they were hiding something)
Magalong also revealed that the suspect caught during the raid, identified as Johnson Lee, according to their source was allegedly released in exchange for P 50 million.
Regarding the testimony which he gave during the Senate hearing, Magalong said: “I believe we were able to convey the message to our senators and at the same time to our countrymen that there’s something wrong with what happened that particular incident last 29, November, 2013. Specifically in Woodbridge Subdivision and the series of events would show that something was wrong in that anti-drug operation.”
When asked whether it was worth it, Magalong said that he believed that it was because what happened was “unscripted and spontaneous”.