MANILA - Senator Bam Aquino on Thursday said the Senate was disrespected after the justice department downgraded murder charges against police officers involved in the killing of a town mayor allegedly involved in illegal drugs.
Aquino said the the Department of Justice's downgrading of charges against Supt. Marvin Marcos and the officers who led the prison raid that killed Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa, and the police officer's reinstatement into their posts "makes a mockery of all our justice processes and systems."
"This is something na hindi pwedeng palampasin ng Senado. At the end of the day, we did come up with a Senate report, which was voted on by everyone, unanimously supported that there was a murder that happened, at kung ito yung ending niyan, the Senate as an institution will also be disrespected," he told ANC's Headstart.
After public hearings last year until early this year, two Senate panels said Espinosa's killing was "premeditated" by the police to cover up their involvement in the illegal drug activities of the mayor.
The National Bureau of Investigation came up with a similar report.
The slain mayor's son Kerwin, who confessed to being a drug dealer in Central Visayas, testified during a Senate inquiry that Marcos was on his payroll -- an allegation that the officer tearfully denied.
Recently however, the Department of Justice, through a resolution penned by Undersecretary Reynante Orceo, resolved the petition for review and downgraded the charges against police officers to homicide from murder.
The Senate on Wednesday opened a fresh inquiry into the DOJ's decision to downgrade the charges and the subsequent reinstatement of the police officers. The session was attended by representatives from the DOJ panel of prosecutors, the NBI, and the PNP-Internal Affairs Service.
Aquino said it was "obviously a cover-up" and the DOJ's move did not have a clear basis.
"Practically all of these other agencies, yung naging desisyon nila was that it was murder. In fact, the Senate report doesn’t even just say murder; it says it was murder, it was premeditated, and it was part of a clean-up try to be able to hide the Espinosa connection to the police," he said.
"Meron kang 3 big agencies tasked to investigate saying it’s murder, and then Undersecretary Orceo changes it just like that. Pinalitan niya just like that," he added.
Aquino said the Senate will have a second inquiry into this mess to look into what happened between Orceo and his superior, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.
"Secretary Aguirre himself said this was murder, in one of the previous hearings. Siya na mismo nagsabing murder ito. And then yung underling mo babaguhin yung sinabi mo under oath? That’s very irregular," he said.