MANILA – Malacañang on Friday defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to reinstate cops linked to the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. despite supposedly glaring pieces of evidence showing they deliberately killed the local chief executive.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Duterte was complying with the law and other procedures when he favored the reinstatement of Supt. Marvin Marcos and 18 of his men.
“The reinstatement of Supt. Marcos is basically in compliance with the fact that he was suspended and the suspension has been served,” Abella said in a press briefing.
Senators were outraged after Marcos and his men were reinstated even though results of a Senate probe into the Espinosa slay showed the killing was “premeditated.”
Marcos was head of the Philippine National Police - Criminal Investigation and Detecion Group-Central Visayas when his men shot dead Espinosa and another inmate, Raul Yap, at the Leyte sub-provincial jail.
The Department of Justice initially charged the cops with murder but later downgraded it to homicide, a move that also earned the ire of several senators.
After serving his suspension and out on bail for his homicide case, Marcos was named head of the PNP-CIDG of Soccsksargen region.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, who spearheaded the Senate probe into Espinosa’s controversial slay, could only cuss in disgust over the supposed special treatment given by the President to Marcos and his men.
“In sum, there is a phrase to describe this whole damn thing: Put*ng I*a!” he said.
Lacson said Marcos’ situation was not even a reinstatement, but a “back-to-duty status after serving his 4-month suspension order incorporated in a "slap-on-the-wrist" administrative penalty.
He also criticized the explanation that Marcos was not physically present during the serving of a search warrant that led to Espinosa’s killing.
Abella downplayed criticisms that Duterte was giving special treatment to Marcos and his men, even though some policemen facing lighter offenses were either dismissed or sent to the battlefront.
“Rest assured that the President has the well-being of the nation in his heart and he will continue to do so especially in ensuring that there is law and order and peace in the land,” he said in a chance interview.
For Sen. Grace Poe, the reinstatement of Marcos may further tarnish the image of the PNP as an institution, saying the move may encourage a culture of impunity within the police ranks.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV meanwhile alleged that the reinstatement of Marcos is because of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fear that the policemen might divulge his alleged links to the Espinosa murder.
Trillanes recalled how Duterte reassigned Marcos and his men to CIDG Region 8 last year before they were implicated by the late Espinosa to the illegal drug trade.
"But when Gen. Dela Rosa relieved them for being implicated by Espinosa in the illegal drug trade and, at the same time, not having the required schooling to be assigned at CIDG, it was Duterte himself who ordered Dela Rosa for their immediate reinstatement. Then just a few weeks after, Espinosa ended up getting murdered by Marcos' group,” Trillanes said.