Senate hearing drives Senator Gordon to tears
The top post in the Philippine National Police has become a hot seat for beleaguered PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde that he has decided to vacate it on October 29 or 9 days ahead of his birthday when he turns 56, the mandatory age of retirement for police officials.
Albayalde must be thinking such a move will place him below the radar and quiet speculations that he pulled strings to protect 13 of his former men in Pampanga who are implicated in the agaw-bato or recycling of confiscated drugs. The case happened on November 29, 2013 when Albayalde was at the helm of the Pampanga provincial police office. Despite the numerous lapses committed by the raiding team, tagged as ninja cops and the loss of more than 100 kilos of shabu including the disappearance of alleged drug lord Johnson Lee, Albayalde did not initiate a probe and subscribed to the supposed regularity of the operation based on the spot report submitted by the head of the raiding team, Col. Rodney Baloyo.
Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon, who is leading the Senate probe as chairman of the Blue Ribbon committee had it right when he said that what happened in Pampanga six years ago was a skeleton in General Albayalde’s closet. How bizarre to think that the public gets to hear about it on live TV just as he is about to retire.
Anybody monitoring the Senate hearings can not help but suspect that the PNP chief was complicit in the actions of the ninja cops. Had he called out his men and subjected them to a probe, he could have prevented his relief from the Pampanga police office. And yet despite the fact that the case has tarnished his professional record, Albayalde called police officials investigating the case to go easy on the ninja cops.
The testimonies of retired police generals Benjamin Magalong, former director general of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group CIDG, and his deputy, General Rody Lacadin, also now retired, back to back with the output of other resource persons plus the evasive responses of Col. Rodney Baloyo would be too much even for a sturdy lawmaker. But thankfully, the 74-year old Senator Richard Gordon has ably shepherded the probe.
He was focused and alert throughout. His style is businesslike and tough. He does not waste time and is rarely distracted, although one time he commented (in Tagalog) that he cried just listening to the flow of the hearing. At the end of a rough week yesterday, Senator Gordon was fielding questions from Senate beat reporters who were looking to him to set the tone of this week’s news menu. I guess Gordon did not let them down when he said that retirement will not shield Gen. Albayalde from graft charges. The Department of Justice or Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong can still run after him.
I was aghast to hear the wife and widow of the murdered vice mayor of Batuan town, Masbate, Mrs. Lalaine Yuson seeking the assistance of broadcaster Raffy Tulfo over his popular program aired on Radyo5.
Vice Mayor Charles Yuson III was gunned down in Sampaloc, Manila last Wednesday while having breakfast with his brother and friends. Yuson died on the spot while two of his companions were wounded. Mrs. Yuson arrived in the scene shortly after but instead of attending to her dead husband, she went straight to the Ermita Police Station where four suspects were already detained after they were cornered by a police dragnet.
Mrs. Yuson was quick to accuse PCSO director Sandra Cam as the brains behind the killing saying they were able to take pictures of the suspects, one of whom she recognized as a driver of the PCSO official. Mrs. Yuson also suspected that one or two policemen took part in the shooting. Inside the Ermita Police Station she pressed the station commander to allow her to look at the suspects and get their names but the police official did not budge, thus fueling the widow’s suspicion.
This was the backdrop when Mrs. Yuson aired her grievances over Mr. Tulfo’s radio program. While listening to her story, he arranged for a phone-patch conversation between the aggrieved woman and Manila Police District chief General Vicente Danao who promised to give the information she wanted. He also assured her they are doing their best to pin down the suspects.
As a former radio news and public affairs anchor, this my first time to hear personalities with close ties to a government official going to a radio station to lodge complaints against a state official or in this case, the police. Mrs. Yuson maybe considered part of the establishment because her son is the municipal mayor and her husband the vice mayor of Batuan.
In other words, she has the clout to move things unlike the poor and downtrodden who have no influence. Because they’re not well-connected their best case scenario is to place the object of their complaint under public scrutiny in the hope that they will be shamed to do the right thing.
Well, we live in different times.
Friday night it was reported the Manila City police released all four suspects connected to the killing of Vice Mayor Charlie Yuson III. This was on orders of the Manila deputy prosecutor who instructed authorities to further investigate the case. The suspects were freed but the police did not mention their names or their whereabouts.
Senator Dick Gordon must be in tears.
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