Albayalde seeks ex-SolGen's help in filing case vs. accusers

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Philippine National Police chief General Oscar Albayalde "sought the legal assistance of his cabalen, Atty. Estelito Mendoza," the top cop's office said in a statement.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 11) — Philippine National Police chief General Oscar Albayalde has begun the groundwork in his plan to sue retired generals who have accused him of involvement in the irregular Pampanga raid that happened under his watch as provincial police director in 2013.

Albayalde's office on Friday provided photos of the top cop's meeting with veteran lawyer and former Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza.

Albayalde "sought the legal assistance of his cabalen, Atty. Estelito Mendoza in the filing of charges against ex-generals who gave false and baseless testimony against him during the recent Senate inquiry," the Office of the Chief PNP said in a statement.

Albayalde wants charges filed against Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, former chief of the PNP's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, and retired Central Luzon regional police chief PCSupt. Rudy Lacadin.

Magalong has accused Albayalde of blocking the dismissal of 13 Pampanga policemen who supposedly kept and peddled 160 kilos of shabu seized from the November 2013 drug sting in Mexico, Pampanga. The cops also allegedly got ₱50 million and new cars when they freed alleged drug trafficker Johnson Lee. These policemen, who are now called "ninja cops," were initially ordered dismissed. Four years after the raid, their punishment was downgraded to a one-rank demotion, something lawmakers have heavily criticized.

Lacadin, meanwhile, said Albayalde called him to ask about what was then an ongoing investigation on the Pampanga cops. Albayalde supposedly said he only got "a little" from the raid. While Lacadin admitted that the remark may have been made in jest, some senators say the testimony was "damaging" to Albayalde's credibility.

READ: Albayalde allegedly called another cop on Pampanga raid: ‘Kaunti lang napunta sa ‘kin diyan’

Albayalde has denied any involvement in the controversial raid, saying he let his subordinates do the job since he thought it was a "simple" anti-drug operation. Albayalde also belied claims he tried to intervene in the case. He said these were all part of a conspiracy to discredit him weeks before his retirement from the police service.

Magalong: Albayalde wants to appear innocent

Magalong and Lacadin in separate statements on Friday said Albayalde has the right to defend himself.

"He wants to appear he is innocent so he is filing a case. That's to his knowledge his best defense. Unfortunately, his body language and statements betray him," Magalong said.

Lacadin, meanwhile, said he has nothing to explain because he was telling the truth.

In an earlier PNP statement, Albayalde said Lacadin “has a lot of explaining to do and he will have his day in court."

Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, a former PNP chief, supports Albayalde's decision to file a case, noting that he remains innocent until proven guilty.

"It may be a double-edged sword though since those retired generals will not take it sitting down and will defend themselves vigorously," Lacson said in a statement. He added that the Albayalde needs to present solid evidence to disprove all the allagations hurled against him.

NAPOLCOM review

The National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM), the body tasked to administer and control the 190,000-strong police force, is now conducting a case review of the questionable raid, including Albayalde's possible liabilities.

Albayalde on Friday faced over an hour of questioning by the NAPOLCOM, of which he is an ex-officio member.

Interior Secretary and NAPOLCOM Chairman Eduardo Año hopes to present their findings to President Rodrigo Duterte next week.

Duterte previously said Albayalde’s “only link” to the erring cops was that he happened to be Pampanga’s provincial director when the questionable drug raid happened. He said he will wait for the Senate to wrap up its investigation before taking action on Albayalde and his former subordinates.