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

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Retired PCSupt. Rudy Lacadin (L) and PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde (R)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 9) — Philippine National Police Chief General Oscar Albayalde called another Central Luzon police chief in connection with the controversial Pampanga drug raid which happened under his watch as provincial police director.

At the Senate’s hearing on the so-called “ninja cops" issue on Wednesday, retired Police Regional Office 3 regional director PCSupt. Rudy Lacadin disclosed that Albayalde called him while he was investigating the Pampanga policemen.

“He called me up, actually, and ang usapan, I cannot exactly remember the conversation, but ang maalala ko is that, ‘Sir, naimbestigahan niyo daw kami’,” Lacadin recalled his conversation with Albayalde.

[Translation: He called me up, actually, and the talk, I cannot exactly remember the conversation, but what I remember is that 'Sir, is it true that you are investigating us.']

Lacadin answered in the affirmative. He called Albayalde by his nickname “Oca,” and told him, “If you have nothing to hide, wala naman kayong dapat katakutan (you have nothing to fear).”

Lacadin said Albayalde’s answer still puzzles him to this day.

Ang sabi niya is, I don’t know if jokingly, ang sabi niya: ‘Actually Sir kaunti lang naman ang napunta sa akin diyan’,” Lacadin narrated.

[Translation: He said, I don’t know if jokingly, he said: 'Actually I only got a little from that.']

He said he did not ask Albayalde to elaborate because he did not want to be “influenced” by the remark as he looked into the case.

A joke?

Lacadin admitted that Albayalde's remark “was probably done out of jest,” but he was certain it was made in connection with the probe on the “ninja cops.”

Lacadin retired as Central Luzon police regional director in May 2016 and was replaced by Aaron Aquino, who is now head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

For his part, Albayalde said he could not remember if he did call Lacadin. Albayalde maintained his innocence as he decried a supposed conspiracy to discredit him a month before his retirement.

"Hindi ko matandaan kung talagang may tawag ako kay General Lacadin noon (I can't recall if I really did call General Lacadin then), if he has personal gripes on me," Albayalde said.

“It seems that everybody is ganging up on me, I really do not know,” Albayalde added.

Kung sabihin mong sinabi ko yun, ang tanong po uli (If you insist that I said that, the question remains), why was I not charged?” he added.

Previous Senate hearings revealed that Albayalde also asked Lacadin's successor, Aquino not to implement the Pampanga cops’ pending dismissal. Albayalde then said he only asked about the status of his men’s case, so he can report something to their relatives who were concerned about the case.

READ: Albayalde accused of blocking dismissal of subordinate 'ninja cops'

Alan Purisima, the PNP chief who ordered a probe into the Pampanga policemen after receiving information they all got new cars, admitted that they did not have enough evidence to pin Albayalde down.

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who was then chief of the PNP's CIDG, said other members of the Pampanga provincial police office backed out from testifying after learning that the case was weak. He said this is why they failed to get hard evidence against Albayalde.

But Magalong stressed that if someone’s lying, it would be Albayalde, not Aquino or Lacadin.

READ: Albayalde sees politics behind Magalong’s accusations: ‘It probably has to do with the next PNP chief’

Albayalde's 'friend' says he's liable

Lacadin said he has nothing against Albayalde, his friend and former business partner.

“As a friend, it pains me to give statements that might affect the integrity of my fellow officer,” Lacadin said, but stressed that he needs to tell the truth.

Lacadin said Albayalde should have been held liable for signing the spot report saying that the raid was conducted in the afternoon, when it was actually done in the morning.

Senators suspect the cops used the time between the morning and afternoon to cover up the drug recycling and other irregularities.

Thirteen of Albayalde's men supposedly kept 160 kilograms of shabu for themselves during the said raid in Mexico, Pampanga. They also got P50 million and some new cars in exchange for the freedom of drug trafficker Johnson Lee, an investigation showed.

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 that has been heavily criticized by lawmakers. The case is now being reinvestigated by the Department of Justice.

Albayalde has denied blocking the dismissal of his men. He also said he did not get himself involved in the raid because it seemed like a "simple operation" then.

President Rodrigo Duterte said he will wait for the Senate to wrap up its investigation before taking action on Albayalde and his subordinate cops. The President said that as of now, Albayalde’s “only link” to the erring cops was that he happened to be Pampanga’s provincial director when the questionable drug raid happened.

'Damaging' testimony

Senators Gordon and Franklin Drilon both described the latest statements against Albayalde as "damaging."

Even Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III, who earlier said Albayalde remains fit to lead the 190,000-strong police force, now expressed doubts.

"I will probably have to make an assessment, pag-iisipan ko (I will think about it)," Sotto told reporters when asked if Albayalde's credibility remains intact.