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Albayalde relinquishes post as PNP chief

Embattled Philippine National Police chief Police General Oscar Albayalde on Monday relinquished his post following the ninja cops controversy.

In a speech after the flag ceremony at Camp Crame, Albayalde said he would go on a non-duty status which will be effective Monday.

"After careful thought and deliberation, I have come to the decision to relinquish my post as Chief, PNP effective today and go on a non-duty status. I have submitted my letter of intent to [Interior] Secretary [Eduardo] Año which he accepted and favorably endorsed to the President," Albayalde said.

He said this would pave the way for "the appointment of his replacement should the President so desire."

Albayalde expressed gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte for his trust and confidence and for giving him the opportunity to lead the PNP and serve the Filipinos.

As he relinquished his post, Albayalde called on policemen to "carry on in the service of fellow Filipinos," as he also thanked them for their hard work, loyalty and dedication to the police service.

"Do not let this challenge demoralize or stray from your path," he said.

According to PNP spokesman Police Brigadier General Bernard Banac, Police Lieutenant General Francisco Archie Gamboa, the deputy chief for administration, will be the officer-in-charge.

Gamboa vowed to continue the PNP's campaigns against criminality, illegal drugs and corruption.

Banac also said Albayalde will still enjoy his full retirement benefits despite relinquishing his post earlier than his November 8 retirement date.

In a separate radio interview, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said relinquishing the post was the same as resigning from it.

"Pare-parehas lang 'yan, 'no? Nag-resign siya sa kaniyang position bilang chief PNP o ni-relinquish niya 'yung kaniyang position bilang chief PNP at naka-leave na lang siya until officially magretiro siya sa November 8," Año said.

The DILG chief said it was Albayalde's personal decision to step down from his post as the latter was deeply affected by the issue.

"Nahirapan na rin siya sa kalagayan niya bilang chief PNP dahil may mga allegations. Tuloy-tuloy 'yung Senate hearing. 'Di na siya makapag-concentrate sa kaniyang trabaho. He wanted to spare the President and the organization from this controversy," Año said.

No pressure from Palace

Malacañang, meanwhile, said it did not pressure Albayalde to quit his post.

“I do not think so [that the Palace pressured him to step down]. I have not heard of anything leading or leaning to that. Perhaps he has had enough of the accusations, innuendos, about his involvement in the drug case, given that his family is suffering from according to him, unfair and false allegations against him” Panelo said in an interview on ANC television.

“He wants to spare the organization  from whatever speculation..bad or false, about him and the organization,” he added.

Senator Richard Gordon on Monday said he feels sorry that Albayalde had to resign over the ninja cops issue but added this action should allow the police organization to reexamine itself.

"I think his resignation will allow the PNP to reexamine itself para tignan sino ang mabubuting tao na puwedeng ilagay diyan talaga at ‘wag na nilang patulan ‘yang mga ninja cops, hulidap, o pinaiikot ang droga,” said Gordon, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee that conducted an inquiry into the issue jointly with the justice panel, in an interview on Dobol B sa News TV aired on GMA News TV.

Just weeks before his retirement scheduled on November 8, Albayalde found himself in hot water after allegations came to fore at a Senate inquiry into ninja cops or policemen who allegedly sell confiscated illegal drugs.

Baguio City Mayor and former PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief Benjamin Magalong and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Aaron Aquino accused Albayalde of intervening in the implementation of a dismissal order against the 13 police officers involved in the allegedly anomalous drug operation by the Pampanga police in November 2013.

Former CIDG deputy director for operations Rudy Lacadin also claimed in a Senate hearing that Albayalde told him that he only got "a small portion" from the anti-drugs operation.

Albayalde was the chief of Pampanga police when the anomalous raid took place.

The 13 police officers allegedly let suspected drug lord Johnson Lee flee in exchange for P50 million while most of the 200 kilos of shabu confiscated during the operation were not declared and presumed to have been sold back to the drug market.

The PNP chief denied allegations that he was involved in any way with the operation and that he intervened in the implementation of a dismissal order on the 13 police officers involved.

The so-called "ninja cops" have all since been demoted by a rank instead of the initial recommendation that they all be dismissed.

The Senate blue ribbon committee will recommend the filing of charges against Albayalde over his alleged involvement in drug recycling and "ninja cops," Gordon said on Saturday.

During the "In Focus" news forum in Quezon City on Saturday, Gordon told reporters that his committee's report on the Senate's probe on the ninja cops issue is just awaiting the signatures of his fellow senators.

The report, he said, includes recommendations on what charges will be filed against the top cop.

Albayalde said he is seeking legal assistance from his province mate Atty. Estelito Mendoza, one of the country's eminent lawyers who successfully defended such personalities as former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Senator Ramon Revilla Jr., regarding charges he could file against the former generals who allegedly gave false testimony against him during the Senate inquiry.

Mendoza is also a former Solicitor General and Secretary of Justice.

Albayalde said the legal assistance would be free.

While welcoming the resignation of Albayalde, senators on Monday said it should not be the end of the controversy involving "ninja cops."

Some members of the House of Representatives, meanwhile, said Albayalde's resignation will not stop moves to seek accountability from him over allegations about his supposed role in the alleged drug recycling incident involving "ninja cops." —KG/KBK/RSJ, GMA News