Philippine police wants drug charges against its ex-chief

MANILA: Philippine police recommended graft and drug charges against its former chief yesterday over a new scandal that has put President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-narcotics crackdown under the spotlight. The police face allegations some officers are involved in the illegal drugs trade and that they had the protection of former chief Oscar Albayalde.
It is the latest controversy to engulf the Philippine police force, which is waging a drug war launched by President Duterte in 2016. It says it has killed over 5,500 drug suspects but human rights groups say the real number is four times higher. Allegations of police graft and abuse are not rare in the Philippines, with Duterte twice ordering police to stop its anti-narcotics campaign because of allegations of corruption and murder by officers. The latest controversy however goes right to the top of the force.

The police’s own investigation unit called on the justice department to charge General Albayalde and 13 others for graft and violating the nation’s anti-drugs laws. The charges echo the recommendations made by two Senate committees, which also investigated police involvement in the illegal drug trade and found Albayalde was implicated. The police complaint stemmed from Albayalde’s role as commander of police unit near Manila in 2013 where officers under his supervision allegedly seized and sold a huge haul of narcotics and received bribes to release a drug suspect.

He was accused by a former police official of intervening to protect his officers from sanctions. Another retired official alleged Albayalde received money from the drug sale. Albayalde resigned last week ahead of his November 8 retirement after serving as police chief for more than a year. He has yet to issue a statement but has repeatedly denied allegations of wrongdoing. State prosecutors will now decide whether to file criminal charges or dismiss them outright.

Former Philippine police chief Oscar Albayalde (L) could face charges of graft and violating the nation’s anti-drug laws (AFP)

This comes as the national police announced yesterday it has dismissed three Philippine National Police (PNP) officers involved in another controversial drug raid this year. “We admit that the recent controversy involving the PNP has shaken the institution at its core,” acting police chief Archie Gamboa said in a statement. He announced changes to key leadership positions and put promotions on hold. “Each one will strictly be held accountable for what his or her unit does or fails to do,” he said. – AFP

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