By Genalyn Kabiling
Amid calls for the removal of Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Albayalde over the ninja cop controversy, President Duterte said Sunday he would need “clear proof” implicating the police official to the illegal drug trade before deciding on his fate.
The President explained that he could not simply give a “knee-jerk” reaction to the issue, citing the importance of due process.
For now, Duterte acknowledged that Albayalde continues to enjoy his trust and confidence and is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
“We have to, you know, the presumption. Eh kung mga ‘yung criminal binibigyan mo ng presumption of innocence. You know, Albayalde is the PNP chief. Wala pa naman — give me a clear proof na talagang he was there on the take or was in the trafficking of drugs,” he said during a press conference upon arrival in Davao from his official visit to Russia.
“I could not just do it in a knee jerk. I have to follow procedural due process and allow him time to answer. The right to be heard. It’s given to the criminals, to the kidnappers. It should be given to a general of the Philippine National Police,” he added.
Asked if he still trusts Albayalde, the President said he would have dismissed the police chief if he no longer trusted him.
“Well, that he is still there. Otherwise, I would have you know just — I would have told him to just go out. Wala pa naman [There is none yet]. Just give me a proof kasi abogado ako eh [because I’m a lawyer],” he said.
“There is a legal maxim which we have to follow. Guilt is personal. ‘Yan ang problema. That is why you have to hear before you condemn because guilt, I said, is personal. It cannot be transferred from the lowest to the highest ranking or the highest ranking to the lowest unless there is a conspiracy which then the rule applicable is the act of one is the act of all,” he added.
Duterte also said he has not yet considered any replacement of Albayalde, adding he must still consult some people. Albayalde is expected to retire from the police force next month.
“I have to — they call it vet. I have to consult everybody. Maya-maya madapa na naman tapos ako ang magkaroon ng problema [I might make a mistake and I might end up with a problem],” Duterte said.
Albayalde has been accused of trying to block the dismissal of his former subordinates over an irregular drug raid in Pampanga when he was provincial police chief years ago. The police chief has denied the allegations.
Senator Richard Gordon earlier said Albayalde should consider resigning after he was linked to the alleged anomalous Pampanga anti-drug operation.
READ MORE: Albayalde should consider resigning – Gordon
The President said Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año will launch a probe on the personalties linked to the ninja cop mess as soon as the Senate completes its probe on the matter.
Año will then submit his report to the President for appropriate action.
“I cannot adopt the investigation of Congress as the work of the Executive department. Kailangan ko na i-review ‘yan, tapos kung tama lahat, eh ‘di i-adopt ko. But then, there must be a process. It has to undergo the procedural due process,” he said.
“I am the Executive so I execute the laws. I will — we will study. Secretary Año will study the matter very carefully,” he said.
READ MORE: DILG probes Albayalde, ‘ninja cops’