By Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos
Malacañang said that embattled Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Oscar Albayalde probably has had enough of the allegations against him, forcing the latter to step down from his duties weeks ahead of his scheduled retirement from service.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement after Albayalde announced Monday that he was going on a non-duty status and relinquished his post as PNP chief. Albayalde’s classmate from the Philippine Military Academy class of 1986, Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa, was named officer-in-charge of the police force.
Read more: Gamboa is PNP’s OIC
In his press briefing, Panelo said that Albayalde probably had enough of the allegations linking him to a controversial drug raid in 2013 when he was still the provincial director of Pampanga.
“I cannot read his mind. I can only speculate, maybe he had enough of, according to him, false, unfair accusations and innuendoes, especially because his family is suffering. Baka bumigay yung mama. Parang pinakiusapan ata ng pamilya (Maybe he gave up to the pressure. I think the family asked him to do it),” Panelo said Monday.
In an interview with CNN Philippines, Panelo, however, said that he was not surprised by Albayalde’s decision.
“Ine-expect ko na iyan, kasi nga parang kawawa naman kako ito (I was expecting that because I was feeling bad for him). Eventually, the family will persuade him to relinquish his post,” he said.
However, in a statement after his press briefing, Panelo said they respect Albayalde’s decision.
“The Palace respects the decision of Philippine National Police (PNP) General Oscar Albayalde to go on a non-duty status (NDS) ahead of his retirement on November 8, 2019. The NDS is a privilege and its availment is voluntary, in accordance with the National Police Commission guidelines,” he said.
“We wish General Albayalde all the best in his future undertakings as we express our sincere gratitude to the former PNP Chief for his services to this Administration, the nation and to the people,” he added.
Senators called out
Meanwhile, Panelo also slammed some senators for making it appear that Albayalde was guilty of the allegations against him without clear proof. He, however, refused to name these lawmakers but said one of them is his friend.
“Ang Senado talagang merong kapangyarihan at tungkulin na mag-imbestiga. Dapat talaga mag-imbestiga in aid of legislation (The Senate really has the power to investigate and they should in aid of legislation),” he said.
“Ang sinasabi ko lang merong isang Senador o dalawa na nagko-comment na guilty kaagad. Hindi pwede yun. Parang unfair naman yun doon sa pinag-aakusahan nila (What I’m saying is there is a Senator, or two of them, making comments that Albayalde is already guilty. I think that’s unfair for the man),” he added.
In his interview with CNN Philippines, Panelo said the Senate was supposed to be the one to prove that Albayalde did something wrong.
“Mawalang-galang na rin sa mga senador natin na [pinalalabas na guilty] (With all due respect to Senators who are making it appear that), General Albayalde has to prove himself innocent. Excuse me, eh ano ang nangyari doon sa (but what happened to the) constitutional presumption of innocence,” he said.
“Kayo ang mag-prove na may mali siya. Kaya nga (You should prove that he did something wrong. That’s why) precisely the President said give me a clear proof that he has profited from the drugs, that he is link to this and that,” he added.
Panelo also addressed Senator Francis Pangilinan’s statement that Albayalde may go scot-free and that President Duterte may just transfer or appoint him to a different post despite his controversies.
According to the Palace official, there needs to be evidence before a case can be filed against Albayalde. He then advised Pangilinan to come forward if he has evidence that can help prosecute the embattled police general.
“Baka gustong tulungan ni Senator Kiko, abogado naman siya. Baka gusto mong tulungan yung mga nagpu-prosecute kasi nag-aantay ng ebidensya yun (Maybe Senator Kiko wants to help. After all, he’s a lawyer. Maybe he wants to help the prosecutor since he’s probably waiting for evidence),” Panelo said.
“I think it’s your duty, not only as a Senator of the Republic, but as an ordinary citizen of this country, to help prosecute na dun sa tingin mo na may mga kasalanan (those whom you think are guilty of a crime),” he added.