Philippine National Police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde. Image Credit: AP

Manila: President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered probe into the alleged “reselling” of drugs seized in police operations as the controversy dragged the name of General Oscar Albayalde, the national police chief into the scam.

Albayalde is set to retire in November 8 when he turns 56, but bowing out of service may not be that easy for the country’s top police official. During a Senate investigation into alleged “reselling” of drugs seized by police in its operations, he was implicated by former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief and now incumbent Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong in a supposed cover-up on the drugs “recycling” modus by certain corrupt law enforcers in Pampanga six years ago.

The illicit substance were seized by policemen in the province in November 29, 2013, in an anti-drugs operation.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director Aaron Aquino also had admitted during the same senate investigation that Albayalde had called him up in 2016 and tried to persuade him not to dismiss 13 Pampanga policemen accused of selling some 160 kilos of crystalline methamphetamine (shabu) seized from a drug suspect.

Fair probe

“We will go where the evidence will point us. We will look at the allegations against him (Albayalde). And do a fair and thorough investigation as much as we can because I think this is what the President wants,” Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said in TV interview, adding that Interior Secretary Eduardo Año had been given authority by the President to “dismiss, discharge, or terminate,” those involved in the controversy.

Duterte is in Russia for a five-day state visit.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the palace’s stand is to finish investigations being conducted by the Senate.

“The President will let Congress do and finish its investigation in aid of legislation before taking any formal action on the issue of these ninja cops (policemen involved in reselling drugs sieved from suspects),” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

Politics blamed

Albayalde, for his part, blamed “politics” and the jockeying for position as next Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, for the controversy.

“Maybe those who want to become the next PNP chief have something to do with this,” according to Albayalde.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the drive against drugs will not be derailed by the latest accusations involving the country’s top law enforcers.

“The President’s unyielding posture against illegal drugs and those who destroy the country, regardless of whether they belong to the government will not waver,” Panelo said.

From being one of Duterte’s most trusted official, the PNP chief is on the verge of falling from grace days before his retirement.

When asked if Albayalde should resign, Senator Franklin Drilon said on Thursday that the PNP Chief’s stint has been tarnished by the allegations of cover-up being levelled against him. “This is a very serious allegation. Given the tokhang (bloody anti-drugs) campaign, which has killed thousands of people and supposedly drug dealers, the drive loses its credibility when you hear of these allegations involving high-ranking officials,” he said.