President Rodrigo Roa Duterte raises his fist while delivering his speech upon his arrival at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao City on October 6, 2019 following his successful official visit to the Russian Federation. (SIMEON CELI JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

President Rodrigo Duterte said there were no police generals in the illegal drug trade just days after saying during the Valdai forum in Russia that two generals were involved in illegal drugs.

Speaking in Davao City upon his arrival from Moscow, Duterte said he got confused with the ranks of state forces.

Walang generals doon, medyo dalawang ano, walang generals. Sa aking report na dumating sa akin, wala. Pero colonel, I think, nalilito kasi ako dyan. Nalilito kasi ako d’yan, sa superintendent na yan,” Duterte said.           

Walang generals. dun sa na-publish na yun na yon. I cannot adopt the investigation of Congress as the work of the Executive Department. Kailangan kong i-review yan, pag tama, i-adopt ko,” he added.

Duterte’s statement came as the Philippine National Police (PNP) faced a drug recycling scandal that involved rogue police officers.

The national police chief himself, Gen. Oscar Albayalde, was linked to that controversy after the head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Aaron Aquino, revealed during a Senate inquiry that Albayalde had asked him not to dismiss a group of Pampanga police officers, led by Supt. Rodney Baloyo, who were involved in a questionable anti-drug operation in 2013.

Albayalde, a Pampanga native, was then Metro Manila police chief and had supervised Baloyo’s group, while Aquino served as Central Luzon police commander.

Duterte said there was no solid evidence yet linking Albayalde to the drug trade.

“Secretary Año will study the matter very carefully. Kung `yung mga kriminal binibigyan mo ng presumption of innocence. You know, Albayalde is the PNP chief. Wala pa naman, give me clear proof that he was there on the trafficking of drugs. Just because he was the, tapos may tinawagan sya, I could not just do it in knee jerk,” Duterte said.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said his department would form a new panel of state prosecutors to re-investigate the issue the 2013 police operation.

“In the light of new evidence unfolding, and in the interest of justice, the DOJ will reopen the case of Baloyo, et al. and will create a new panel of state prosecutors to conduct the re-investigation. Both sides will be given ample opportunity to present additional evidence.  We shall try to resolve in a month’s time, considering that this automatic review has been pending since 2017.” Guevarra said.

To curb corruption in the state penitentiary, Philippine law enforcement agencies are setting up a liaison office at the New Bilibid Prisons.

The liaison office is a joint effort between the Metro Manila police, the PDEA, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine military.

The office will serve as the intelligence command headquarters to facilitate the sharing of information on activities of convicted felons engaged in the illegal drug trade. (Jasper Camilo)