Gamboa: PNP to win back public confidence after Albayalde controversy

MANILA, Philipines – The Philippine National Police will strive to win back public confidence following the drug-related controversy that prompted its chief to resign, and cast doubt on the credibility of the PNP.

PNP officer-in-charge Archie Francisco Gamboa said this was among the matters discussed at the PNP's closed-door command conference in Camp Crame on Tuesday morning, October 15, a day after PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde announced his resignation.

All regional directors were present or represented. At the center of the table at the front of the command room was Gamboa, who said that there was more pressure on the police to deliver in the President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drug campaign.

“Our emphasis is still illegal drugs, our fight against illegal drugs remains to be the campaign of this administration, so we pursue it. However, to some extent, there’s a bit of a loss on credibility on the part of the PNP,” Gamboa recalled as saying at the command conference, in an interview with Rappler.

"So we also have to make efforts to bring back the confidence of the public in the Philippine National Police," he added.

In an interview on ANC on Tuesday, Gamboa said the police could achieve this my "showing the people that we're clean." For his part, he said, he would present to the public the PNP's accomplishments in ridding the organization of rogue cops since 2016.

Gamboa would be in charge of the PNP until President Rodrigo Duterte decides to keep him or appoint another PNP chief. Gamboa is one of the candidates for top cop, along with police deputy chief for operations Lieutenant General Camilo Cascolan and Metro Manila police chief Major General Guillermo Eleazar.

Why the lost credibility: Weeks of Senate probes into the so-called ninja cops issue chipped away at public confidence in the PNP. During the hearings, several retired police generals implicated  Albayalde in a 2013 drug operation  in Pampanga when he was provincial chief.

Gamboa watched the Senate hearings himself and observed that Albayalde made the decision to resign with the best interest of the PNP in mind. (READ: From tough cop to 'coddler': Oscar Albayalde's fall from grace)

Albayalde was accused of negligence, if not complicity, in the 2013 Pampanga buy-bust. Police investigators found that a team of 13 cops, led by Albayalde’s intelligence chief, stashed away over a hundred kilograms of shabu (methamphetamine), took a bribe, arrested a fall guy, and let the real suspect go.

When he was Metro Manila police chief in late 2016, Albayalde was also accused of asking then Central Luzon police chief and now Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino to not implement the dismissal order against the 13 cops who used to be under him.

Albayalde denied all the allegations against him, and threatened to sue a retired police general who accused him of possibly getting a share from the illegal operation.

‘Isolated case’: Gamboa said there was low morale in the PNP because of what happened, but this would not affect their work, especially in the campaign against illegal drugs.

“It’s one isolated case that happened way before in 2013. Look at what happened 2016 onwards. Look at what General Albayalde did in NCR (National Capital Region). It’s also hard to match,” Gamboa said.

Minutes after he took the OIC post on Monday, Gamboa addressed ground cops to continue with their jobs and ignore the controversy.

During the command conference, Gamboa told generals that they should be leading “examples.” If generals were clean, Gamboa said, everyone below them would follow. Being corrupt would lead to the opposite.

“We cannot do this alone. How can we elicit or solicit the support of the community if they themselves are not convinced that the PNP is doing its best?” Gamboa said. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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