Manila – The Head of the Philippine National Police (PNP), on Monday stepped down ahead of his retirement, amid allegations that he protected police personnel linked to illegal drugs in 2013.
The chief implementor of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, Gen. Oscar Albayalde told troops during the weekly flag-raising ceremony in the police force’s main camp in Manila.
“After careful thought and deliberation, I have come to the decision to relinquish my post as chief [of] PNP effective today and go on non-duty status,” Albayalde said.
Albayalde was due to retire in November this year, at the mandatory age of 56 for police officers.
The president’s office denied that it had pressured Albayalde to step down, saying the PNP chief’s move aims to protect the police force’s credibility.
Albayalde “wants to spare the entire organisation from whatever speculation, bad or false, about shame in the organisation,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
Thousands of suspects have been killed in a violent campaign against drugs which has been the centrepiece of Duterte’s government programme.
Albayalde said his early departure would pave the way for a successor to be appointed and added that Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano had “accepted and favourably endorsed to the president” the police chief’s letter of intent to go on non-duty status.
Last week, Albayalde had said he would leave the PNP top post on Oct. 29.
His resignation follows recent Senate hearings in which former generals accused him of covering up for officers accused of violating rules during a raid in 2013 in Pampanga province.
Albayalde was the chief of provincial police at that time. The issue came up during Senate hearings on issues of negligence in the prison bureau.
The former police chief of investigation, Gen. Benjamin Magalong, now mayor of Baguio City, said that Albayalde’s men seized 200 kilograms of methamphetamine but declared only 38 kilograms, accepted a bribe from the drug suspect, and arrested a fall guy so the real suspect could escape.
Albayalde allegely urged high-ranking police officials not to dismiss his officers, who were criminally charged for the case.
Instead, they were deployed in conflict areas in the southern Philippines and demoted.
Albayalde said the criminal cases were dismissed in 2017 “for insufficiency of evidence” and “lack of probable cause.”
He added that he was not charged for his alleged complicity in the case.
“Do not let these challenges demoralise or stray you from your path,” he told police officers upon announcing his resignation.