Duterte’s top police chief resigns amid drug allegations

General Oscar Albayalde allegedly intervened in the prosecution of officers accused of selling seized drugs.

Duterte - Albayalde
Duterte appointed Albayalde (left) as national police chief in April 2018 [File: STR/EPA]

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte‘s top police chief has been forced to resign following allegations in a Senate hearing that he intervened as a provincial police chief in 2013 to prevent his officers from being prosecuted for allegedly selling a huge quantity of seized drugs.

General Oscar Albayalde said on Monday Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano had accepted his resignation over the weekend but insisted he was innocent, saying he had never been criminally or administratively charged for the alleged irregularity.

Albayalde resigned about three weeks before he was scheduled to retire on November 8.

The allegations against Albayalde were the latest dark cloud to loom over the national police force, amid a bloody anti-drug crackdown that has left thousands of people dead.

Despite mounting evidence presented before the Philippine Senate against Albayalde, Duterte resisted calls to fire him saying “all” are equal in the eyes of the law and that he needed “clear proof” before making a decision. 

In September, Duterte was also forced to fire the country’s top prisons chief, Nicanor Faeldon, over allegations that he approved the early release of thousands of prisoners, including convicted rapists and murderers, in exchange for bribes.

Previously, Faeldon was also linked to a multi-million dollar drug smuggling case while serving as Duterte’s top customs official.

Despite all the allegations and even after the dismissal, Duterte defended Faeldon saying: “He’s a straight edge. I still believe in him.”

Drugs and deaths

Duterte’s son, Paolo, now a congressman, and his son-in-law were also accused of being involved in the shipment of $125m worth of narcotics from China.

Antonio Trillanes, an opposition politician, had also claimed that Duterte’s son was a member of a Chinese organised crimegroup. 

Paolo Duterte has denied the allegations.

Since Duterte assumed the presidency in mid-2016, some 6,660 people have been killed during drug-related police operations, according to a June 2019 report published by the Philippine National Police.

But human rights advocates say the number could be upwards of 27,000.

In July, the United Nations Human Rights Council approved a resolution seeking action on Duterte’s drug war.

The office of UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet is expected to release a “comprehensive report on the human rights situation” in the Philippines by June 2020.

UN officials earlier told Al Jazeera that they were in touch with Philippine officials, as they prepared the report.

Duterte’s spokesman, Salvador Panelo, had called the vote and the upcoming report as an “outrageous interference” in the sovereignty of the Philippines.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies