The Man Who Led Duterte’s Brutal War on Drugs Quit Amid Claims He Took a Bribe From a Drug Trafficker

The former chief of the National Police was accused of taking a cut of a bribe from a drug trafficker that his officers allowed to escape.
14 October 2019, 9:26pm
duterte war on drugs bribes

This article originally appeared on VICE US

The man who oversaw Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, which has left tens of thousands of people dead, resigned Monday — amid allegations he protected police officers who were selling large quantities of seized drugs.

General Oscar Albayalde, chief of the Philippine National Police, tendered his resignation over the weekend, though in a speech Monday he continued to deny the allegations that have been building against him in recent weeks.

“After careful deliberation, I have come to the decision to relinquish my post as chief, effective today and go on non-duty status,” Albayalde said. He had been scheduled to retire on November 8.

Albayalde rose to power as Duterte’s enforcer in the brutal war on drugs the Philippines’ president has waged since he took office in 2016.

But in recent weeks, Senate hearings have revealed accusations of a “grand cover-up” by Albayalde when he was Pampanga police chief in 2013.

Albayalde was accused by a former police chief of intervening to prevent the dismissal of officers under his command after they seized 200kg of methamphetamine from a drug suspect, who they then allowed to escape after receiving a $1 million bribe.

The officers were also accused of only declaring 38kg of the total haul of drugs and retaining the rest for use in other operations, or selling it on.

READ: Duterte promises cash prize for capturing felons. But he's also fine if you kill them.

Benjamin Magalong, the retired head of the criminal investigation and detection group, made the allegation accidentally during a Senate hearing on a different topic. A second police general came forward to back up the allegation and said Albayalde told him he “got a little” of the bribe.

Despite the mounting evidence against Albayalde, Duterte has refused to fire him, saying no criminal charges have been laid against the police chief, and insisting he needed “clear proof” before firing him.

“I can only speculate that maybe [Albayalde] had enough of the — according to him — false, unfair accusations and innuendos, especially because his family is suffering. Maybe the guy gave in," Duterte’s spokesman, Salvador Panelo, told reporters Monday.

READ: Duterte said “you must be stupid” if you think he’ll stand trial at the Hague for his drug war

Duterte’s brutal crackdown on drug users and dealers has resulted in thousands of deaths. While the Philippines’ police put the figure at 6,600 in a June report, human rights groups claim over 25,000 people may have been killed.

Cover: In this Oct. 3, 2019, file photo, Philippine National Police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde gestures as he testifies at the resumption of the Senate probe on the release of hundreds of convicts under the shortened serving of their sentence for good behavior, in suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines. Albayalde has resigned after he faced 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. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File)