By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Richard Gordon doubts that outgoing Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Oscar Albayalde will succeed in his bid to file charges against former police officials who implicated him in the anomalous anti-drug operation in Pampanga in 2013.
Albayalde had earlier sought the help of former Solicitor-General Estelito Mendoza in filing charges against former PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief and now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, and retired Central Luzon regional police chief Rudy Lacadin, who had testified in the Senate’s investigation on the so-called “ninja cops”.
Gordon, in a radio interview Saturday, said Albayalde’s legal case against the former PNP officials might end in vain should he pursue it based on the marathon hearings conducted by the Senate justice and blue-ribbon committees.
“Hindi naman makakasuhan ‘yan. Palagay ko mahina ang kaso nyan dahil talagang nagtestify sila on their own volition, wala namang pumipilit sa kanila. Saka exempted ‘yang mga ‘yan from cases ‘pag ganyan (They can’t be charged. I think the case is weak because they testified on their own volition, they were not forced to speak. And they are exempted from prosecution in such instances),” Gordon, chairman of the two Senate committees, told radio DWIZ.
Gordon, who is also a lawyer, said the testimonies of Magalong and Lacadin were part of a “privilege communication” and were necessary to aid the Senate in its legislative inquiry.
The former police officials, he noted, had to cooperate.
“Usually, privilege communication yan pag nag-[testify] ka sa Senado… Hindi ka basta-basta makakasuhan dyan, unless talagang pawang kasinungalingan at mapapatunayan mo. Pero kung ganyan, dahil lang may sinabi ka, bihira ang nagsusustain na korte d’yan (It’s called privilege communication when you testify in Senate. You cannot be charged easily, unless what you said were all lies and it is proven. If that’s the case, you said something in the Senate inquiry, courts seldom sustain these charges),” he said.
Still, Gordon said he respects Albayalde’s privilege to sue his accusers with the help of a veteran lawyer.
He said the embattled top cop might also need Mendoza’s help in defending him from the possible cases that he might face for supposedly covering up the controversial drug bust conducted by his former subordinates.
“Well, at this point he should be prepared for cases to be filed against him. Not necessarily from us. Sa aking palagay ay may clear proof (In my opinion there is a clear proof)…Malinaw talaga na may (It is clear that there was a) cover-up. Hindi maaring magcover-up nang wala si Albayadle doon (It’s impossible that there is a cover-up without Albayalde being involved),” he said.
Gordon said the Senate committees are crafting the report recommending charges against those involved in the anti-drug operation, including Albayalde.
Copies of the Senate’s report, he said, will be submitted to the Department of Justice and the Office of the Ombudsman for the filing of necessary charges.
Gordon said he and other senators “agreed” that the testimonies against Albayalde, although circumstantial, were strong enough to prove his alleged involvement in the operation.
He also cited Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director-General Aaron Aquino’s admission that Albayalde called to block the implementation of the 2014 dismissal order against his former men.
“Malakas naman ‘yon, tinatanggap ng husgado yon dahil kung minsan wala kang nakukuhang testimonial evidence. Ito meron eh, ‘yong statement ni Aquino saka ni Lacadin saka ‘yong mga sinasabing pinag-usapan, you can conclude that bawat galaw niya o hindi niya ginawa ay mayroong mapagkakabit-kabit na storya. Hindi mo makuka yong storya, pero pag kinabit kabit mo, may logic at conclusion (The evidence are strong, the courts could accept that when there are no testimonial evidence. With the statements of Aquino and Lacadin, you make conclusions about his actions or non-action. We cannot get the full story but when you combine those statements together, there is logic and conclusion),” he said.
Asked about Albayalde’s early retirement this month, Gordon said “‘Yong retirement mo (Your retirement) will not exculpate you, eh. Retirement is your own personal decision.”
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, meanwhile, welcomed Albayalde’s retirement.
“Good decision. I’m sure he is feeling relief,” Sotto said in a text message to reporters Saturday afternoon.
Albayalde was accused of benefitting from the irregular operation conducted by 13 Pampanga cops who allegedly pocketed some 164 kilos of drugs and the vehicles owned by a certain Chinese drug lord.
A former Pampanga provincial director, Albayalde allegedly prevented the dismissal of the involved policemen.
Albayalde has since denied the claims.
On Friday, he announced that he will be stepping down as PNP chief on October 29, 10 days earlier than his scheduled mandatory retirement on November 8.
READ MORE: Albayalde to retire 10 days early