DOJ finds probable cause to charge Albayalde for graft over 'ninja cops' case

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 16) — The Department of Justice found probable cause to charge former Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde and 12 policemen for violation of the anti-graft law over the 'ninja cops’ case.

A special panel formed by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra indicted Albayalde for violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for his supposed failure to implement an order penalizing the 13 policemen who were involved in a controversial drug sting back in 2013.

The DOJ said the panel's findings on Albayalde will be endorsed to the Office of the Ombudsman.

Albayalde was not recommended to be charged over the allegedly irregular drug sting as the panel noted that there is no law that would provide for criminal liability due to command responsibility.

The panel also found probable cause to charge 12 of the 13 policemen involved in the raid for misappropriating, misapplying or failing to account for confiscated drugs, planting evidence, delaying and bungling the prosecution of drugs cases, and qualified bribery.

The panel found that the 12 misappropriated drugs when they declared only 36.6 kilograms of shabu, when police investigation revealed that they actually seized 200 kilograms. The policemen were also accused of declaring that they only recovered ₱300,000 in cash, when evidence supposedly show that they seized ₱10 million.

Some of the 12 policemen were also found to have failed to declare and account for a Toyota Fortuner, the DOJ said, without specifying who they were.

The DOJ said the policemen should also be charged for supposedly arresting Ding Wenkun instead of alleged Chinese drug trafficker Johnson Lee.

The special panel also recommended the filing of a falsification charge against PMaj Roney Baloyo, for making "untruthful statements in his spot report and progress report regarding the operation." Baloyo led the controversial drug raid and is still under detention after the Senate cited him in contempt.

The panel also said PSSg Romeo Guerrero Jr. and PMSg Ronald Santos should face charges for violating the chain of custody of evidence and for making false statements in their affidavit of arrest against Ding.

The complaints against PSSg Anthony Loleng Lacsamana were dismissed for insufficiency of evidence, DOJ spokesperson Markk Perete said.

Who are the ninja cops?

Thirteen Pampanga policemen, led by Baloyo, conducted a drug operation in 2013 where they supposedly kept 160 kilograms of shabu for themselves, got ₱50 million and new SUVs in exchange for the freedom of Lee, according to testimonies at the Senate investigation.

They were supposed to be sacked following the irregular drug raid, but got they got their penalties reduced to a mere one-rank demotion over a technicality. Albayalde was relieved of his post as Pampanga police chief.

Rudy Lacadin — who succeeded Aquino as Pampanga police chief — said Albayalde called him to ask about an ongoing investigation on the Pampanga cops. Albayalde supposedly said he only got "a little" from the raid.

READ: Duterte still trusts 'innocent' Albayalde despite stepping down amid controversy – Panelo

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.

His being dragged into the case prompted him to step down 10 days before he was supposed to retire on November 8.