Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Monday described the testimonies of two former police generals against resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, General Oscar Albayalde, as “problematic”, as these could only be dismissed by the court.
Panelo made this remark after Senator Richard Gordon said statements made by former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief and now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong and former CIDG deputy director, Col. Rudy Lacadin against Albayalde were enough to pin Albayalde down in his alleged involvement in the recycling of illegal drugs in 2013.
“Alam mo ang problema doon sa statement ni general (Lacadin), meron siyang sinabing ‘Di ko ho alam kung nagbibiro o hindi’ (You know what’s problematic about the general’s statement, he said ‘I can’t tell whether he was joking or not’),” said Panelo, who is also Chief Presidential Legal Counsel.
“Sa hukuman hindi puwede ‘yun pag ganyan ang salita mo wala na, dismissed ang kaso mo (Before the court, it’s unacceptable if that’s the way you speak. Your case could be dismissed),” he added.
Earlier, Magalong claimed Albayalde deferred the dismissal order against his subordinates involved in the recycling of illegal drugs while Lacadin said the resigned PNP admitted receiving money from the reselling of drugs but “only a little”.
Panelo said Lacadin’s testimony was weak because he could not confirm whether Albayalde was joking about receiving money or not.
Panelo added that Magalong’s statement was based on “hearsay” and not personal knowledge.
“Hindi rin papasok sa hukuman yun. Yun ang nagiging problema doon (That won’t stand a chance in court. That’s the problem there),” Panelo said.
Meanwhile, Panelo also scored some senators he did not name for making comments against Albayalde as if already assuming he was guilty of the allegations.
“Pag nagi-imbestiga ka, wag ka muna magsalita na guilty ito o ang ebidensiya lumakas. Hayaan mo na sanang matapos tsaka ka gumawa ng rekomendasyon otherwise eh may problema ka talaga (When you conduct a Senate investigation, don’t say that a person is guilty or evidence is getting stronger. Allow the proceedings to end before you make recommendations otherwise you have a problem),” Panelo said.
“Parang unfair naman yun sa inaakusahan mo (That’s unfair to the accused). Sometimes you cannot also stop someone to express his disgust or disappointment but you know, we have to restrain ourselves especially if you are a lawyer,” he added.
Panelo said Albayalde made a “valid” point by questioning why charges have yet to be filed against him if there is sufficient evidence to implicate him in the illegal drug trade.
He said only strong evidence may be used to file a complaint against Albayalde.
“Ang pag-file ng kaso ay kailangang batay sa ebidensiya. Kung wala kang ebidensiya at haka haka lang, papaano ka magpa-file (Filing charges must be based on evidence. If you have no evidence and it’s all speculation, how can you file charges)?” Panelo said.
He clarified that he was simply giving his observation and not lawyering for Albayalde.
Trial and error
Meanwhile, Panelo denied that President Rodrigo Duterte was engaging in “trial and error” by reappointing government officials to different departments after they were dismissed.
This, after Senator Francis Pangilinan lamented that Albayalde may not be charged and may be even reappointed just like former Cabinet officials who have been fired or resigned.
Panelo did not give a direct answer as to whether there was a possibility that the President would reappoint Albayalde. Instead, he said that only government officials without a whiff of corruption could be given possible reappointment.
“Si President pag naglipat ng isang opisyal na tinanggal sa posisyon, hindi dahil sa korupsyon. Dahil kung korupsyon yun, di na makakabalik yun (The President, when he reappoints an official removed from post, it won’t be because of corruption. Because if it’s corruption, that official will never have the chance to be reappointed),” Panelo said.
“Ang pagkakaalam ko kaya yan tinaggal dahil more on hindi ka bagay yan sa posiyon na yun (What I know is, the reason why they were removed is more on because their current position is not fit for them),” he added.
Albayalde stepped down as PNP chief amid allegations he protected his subordinates for recycling illegal drugs in 2013. (PNA)