By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Richard Gordon has called for a lifestyle check on Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Oscar Albayalde and the 13 policemen involved in the questionable anti-illegal drugs operation in Pampanga in 2013.
“Ito ang hinihingi ko, lifestyle check ng lahat ng nag-raid (This is what I am requesting: a lifestyle check on all those who conducted the drug raid),” Gordon said in an interview over radio DWIZ Saturday.
The senator, who leads the Senate’s investigation on the alleged recycling of illegal drugs by the so-called “ninja cops,” said Albayalde and the 13 former Pampanga policemen’s possible ill-gotten wealth should be investigated to determine if they had benefitted from the November 2013 anti-drug operation against an alleged Chinese drug lord.
The embattled PNP chief and his former subordinates were accused of acquiring new sports utility vehicles (SUVs) following the 2013 operation against a certain Johnson Lee, wherein the anti-drug cops allegedly seized some 200 kilograms of shabu but declared only 36 kilograms as evidence.
Aside from the SUVs, the former Pampanga cops were also allegedly paid P50 million by Lee to make it appear that the Chinese national had escaped.
In a separate interview also on DWIZ, Gordon maintained that Albayalde should not be spared from the audit.
“Makikita mo ‘yong mga kotse; ‘yong mga kamag-anak may kotse ba? Paano nakuha ‘yong mga kotse? Saka mga pera. Dapat mag-ingat din sila dahil iimbestigahin sila nang ganyan (We will see if they indeed have cars, or if their relatives also have cars. If so, how were they able to acquire these vehicles. And their wealth. They should be careful because they will be investigated about that),” he said.
Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, a former PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group director (CIDG) chief, had earlier claimed that Albayalde also acquired a new SUV after the 2013 operation.
But Albayalde denied this, claiming instead that Magalong had a motive for bringing up the issue before the Senate.
He also denied having been informed by his men prior to the drug bust. He stood by what was written on the spot report submitted to him, despite the findings that it was falsified.
Gordon refused to accept Albayalde’s excuses. He said he should also explain why he allegedly blocked the dismissal of the 13 cops.
Former Central Luzon police regional director and now Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino, during the Senate Justice committee hearing Thursday, confirmed that Albayalde called him in 2016 to ask him not to implement the dismissal order of the Pampanga policemen.
“Noon pa dapat kumilos si Gen. Albayalde. Ang masakit pa nakialam pa si Gen. Albayalde by talking to Aquino. He has a lot to explain (Albayalde should have acted on this long ago. What’s more questionable is he intervened by talking to Aquino. He has a lot to explain),” Gordon said.
Gordon also suspected that Police Lieutenant Colonel Rodney Baloyo, who was cited in contempt at the last hearing, could be covering up Albayalde’s involvement in the irregular operation.
“It’s possible because huling-huli na nakita na nagsisinungaling sila (they are caught red-handed, that they are lying),” he said.
Gordon last Thursday called for a “fair and impartial” re-investigation of the 2013 Pampanga operation to include Albayalde.
He said the Justice committee will try to release by next week its report on its “ninja cops” inquiry.