By: Manuel “Boy” Mejorada
UNTIL the end, former PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde took care to protect his image even in the face of overwhelming evidence that at the very least, he had covered-up for the nefarious activities of his men who were involved in the “agaw-bato” operation in Pampanga six years ago.
On Monday, Albayalde surprised the whole nation when he announced he was “relinquishing his post” and go into “non-duty status” for the remainder of his career which ends with his mandatory retirement upon reaching the age of 56 on November 8, 2019. He avoided stating the obvious: that he was resigning.
There was no way that Albayalde could embellish the nature of his action. He simply wouldn’t resign as the circumstances demanded. As I pointed out in my blogs during the last two weeks, resignation was the honorable thing to do when his name was dragged into the scandal of the ninja cops. It didn’t matter whether he was involved in the glaring criminal acts of his men; his efforts to exculpate his men constituted conduct unbecoming of an officer. He was dishonest as he was dishonorable.
I think Albayalde was ordered to submit his “relinquishment” letter to the President. Just two or three days before it happened, he defiantly said that he was not going to quit his post. Only the President can decide on his fate, he said. That was a blunder. It only made him fall with a bigger thud.
Apparently, the President’s instructions were conveyed to him during the weekend when he met with DILG Secretary Eduardo Año. The decision wasn’t shaped by his conscience. The boss gently nudged him out of his position. His gamble backfired on him.
Hopefully, the integrity of the entire PNP suffered only a slight bruise as a result of this episode. For the men and women of the PNP, seeing the highest official of the organization being ruthlessly exposed for a grave blunder in the past was demoralizing. What aggravated the scandal was Albayalde’s defiance in the face of a mountain of evidence not only against his men, but also against him.
The fate of P/Major Rodney Raymund Baloyo IV and the 12 other police officers are sealed by this time. The original decision to dismiss them from the police service is going to replace the mere demotion that Albayalde had managed to wrangle for his subordinates. And the criminal charges that were also recommended for dismissal by the Prosecutor’s Office will also change course. An indictment against him is likely to replace the recommendation for dismissal of the charges.
What about Albayalde?
I believe Albayalde will be charged both criminally and administratively for his acts. While there might be no direct evidence to implicate him in the “agaw-bato” operation of his men, his failure to act swiftly to discipline them for a grave breach of the law and the eventual cover-up can be used against him. There is circumstantial evidence that he had foreknowledge about what happened, and he knew every aspect of the criminal offense. As an officer, he was duty-bound to hold his men accountable. Having shirked from that responsibility, he must now have to suffer along with his men.
This is a warning to all men and women in the uniformed services. So much trust and confidence have been reposed in them by their badge and uniform. Each must endeavor to stay above suspicion at all times. We cannot expect the PNP and other law enforcement agencies to effectively carry out their work unless they enjoy the public’s support.