By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Monday that it was not the Senate’s job to prove the guilt of Philippine National Police (PNP) chief-on-leave General Oscar Albayalde over the controversial drug bust conducted by his former subordinates.
Sotto defended anew the Upper Chamber from the remarks of Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo who hit senators for calling on Albayalde to prove his innocence in the alleged recycling of illegal drugs seized by his former men during an anti-drug operation in Pampanga in 2013.
The presidential spokesman said the Senate should be the one proving Albayalde’s involvement in the irregular police operation.
But Sotto disagreed, saying that “the Senate is not a prosecutorial body. We need not prove anyone guilty. It’s up to the prosecuting body to do so.”
He also backed his colleagues in expressing their views on the issue hounding Albayalde. Senators, he said, also have the right to do so.
“If my colleagues have manifested their opinion in some way, they are entitled to it, as much as others may have theirs,” the Senate chief said in a text message to the Manila Bulletin.
Albayalde announced that he was relinquishing his post as PNP chief Monday amid the “ninja cops” controversy that cropped up during the Senate Justice and Blue Ribbon Committees’ inquiry on the good conduct time allowance law.
Former PNP officials have accused Albayalde, who was then Pampanga police chief, of having had a hand in the November 29, 2013 operation where more than 160 kilos of illegal drugs as well as vehicles, were not declared, among other irregularities.
Senators earlier surmised that there may have been an attempt to cover up the anomalous operation.
On Monday, Panelo slammed some senators for being “unfair” to Albayalde after supposedly ruling that the latter was guilty of the allegations.
READ MORE: Palace: Albayalde probably had enough
“Mawalang-galang na rin sa mga senador natin na General Albayalde has to prove himself innocent. Excuse me, eh ano ang nangyari doon sa constitutional presumption of innocence,” Panelo said in an interview over CNN Philippines.
“Kayo ang mag-prove na may mali siya. Kaya nga 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.