A rights watchdog on Friday criticized the reinstatement of 18 police officials linked to the killing of former Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa, calling it a "kid-glove handling of the officers" that encourages impunity in the war on drugs.
In a statement, Phelim Kine, Human Rights Watch deputy director for Asia, said the decision to reinstate Supt. Marvin Marcos and other officers is no longer surprising after President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his vow to pardon, reinstate, and promote policemen who enforce his order to go after drug users and peddlers.
He also noted that while the Philippine National Police has publicly sought to distinguish between suspects killed while resisting arrest and killings by "unknown gunmen" or "vigilantes," "Human Rights Watch found no such distinction."
"In several cases, the police dismissed allegations of involvement when only hours before the suspects had been in police custody," the group said.
PNP chief Ronald Dela Rosa earlier said Supt. Marcos, the controversial officer who led a prison raid that left Espinosa dead, is set to head the Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Soccsksargen region.
Senators who led the congressional probe that found that Espinosa's killing was "pre-meditated," have slammed Marcos' reinstatement.
"This effectively disregarded the conspiracy angle. In sum, there is a phrase to describe this whole damn thing: Put*ng I*a!” former police chief and now Senator Panfilo Lacson cursed.
Liberal Party senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan and Bam Aquino meanwhile expressed concern over Marcos’ reinstatement, with Aquino calling the move a “danger to the Filipino people.”