De Lima offers prayers for Aquino, Magalong amid ‘ninja cops’ expose

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Senator Leila M. de Lima has offered prayers for Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Chief Aaron Aquino’s continued strength after he exposed in a Senate probe the presence of drug-recycling officers inside the Philippine National Police (PNP).

De Lima said she also prays for the safety of former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Chief Benjamin Magalong, who, like Aquino, reportedly got death threats for testifying against “ninja cops” or rogue officers and their alleged protector.

“Moral lesson from [A]quino’s flip-flopping on the factual issue of what exactly P/DG Oscar Albayalde told him when he asked about his (Albayalde’s) men involved in the 2013 drug buy bust: One cannot and should not be wavering, if he or she has or knows the truth. Truth cannot have two contrasting faces,” she said.

“But, of course, we cannot judge DG Aquino right away. He must have reasons (pressure, he says) for his initial, tentative stance. I pray for DG Aquino’s strength and for General/Mayor Benjie Magalong’s continued fortitude and safety,” she added.

Both Aquino and Magalong told Senate probers that PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde intervened in the dismissal of 13 policemen over the irregular anti-drug operation in Pampanga in 2013 when the latter was still Pampanga provincial chief. Aquino claimed Albayalde called him up to ask for the status of the dismissal order against the 13 erring police officers, but later admitted that Albayalde actually asked him not to dismiss the 13 cops linked to the illegal drugs trade because they were his men.

Aquino further admitted that he initially had second thoughts on testifying before the Senate against the “ninja cops” issue because he feared for his family’s safety. Magalong, for his part, was the first to reveal that Albayalde supposedly intervened in the case of the 13 police officers who are his subordinates when he was chief of the Pampanga police.

Amid the “ninja cops” controversy, the lady Senator from Bicol said she hopes that the PNP will be “exorcised of its demons” so that “the good men and women in that institution flourish and prevail always over the rotten eggs.” “I pray also for P/DG Albayalde and the PNP as an institution, that it be exorcised of its demons, particularly the propensity of misguided elements to summarily execute hapless drug suspects and other malpractices or nefarious activities,” she said.

De Lima said these malpractices include, among others, ‘agaw bato’, planting of evidence, extortion, torture and CIDG’s shameless cooking up of dubious charges against the opposition and other critics in pursuit of this regime’s agenda to stifle dissent.” Despite the controversies faced by Albayalde, Mr. Duterte maintained that the latter would remain as the PNP’s leader until there is a clear proof of his wrongdoing.

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