MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he will not allow policemen behind the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. to go to prison.
Duterte came to the defense of the policemen despite the findings of the National Bureau of Investigation showing that the killing of the mayor was a “rubout.”
“I will not allow these guys to go to prison. Maski na sabihin ng NBI [na] murder. Eh tutal ano naman ang NBI, under ko rin yan eh, Department of Justice,” Duterte said in a speech in Mandaluyong.
(I will not allow these guys to go to prison., even if the NBI says it was murder. After all, the NBI is under me, the Department of Justice.)
Duterte said he is more inclined to believe the police, whom he said he ordered to kill drug personalities who resist arrest during operations.
“Kasi ako, naniwala ako sa pulis kasi kaming mga mayor, congressman, sino ba ang paniwalaan nila? Ang pulis o ang criminal o yung mga suspetsa suspetsa?” he said.
(We mayors, congressmen, who do we believe – the police or a criminal?)
“Kung ano ang sinabi ng pulis yun ang totoo sa akin. Sabi ng NBI, murder ganon. Sabi ng pulis, ‘Sir lumaban yun.’ O edi dun ako maniwala sa pulis. Ngayon bakit ko isasakripisyo yang ilang pulis dyan?”
(Whatever the police say, that’s the truth for me. The NBI said it was murder. The police said, ‘Sir he fought back’. I believe the police. Why would I sacrifice the police?)
Duterte, nonetheless, said he won’t interfere in whatever the NBI will do next after it released its report.
“To tell you, I don’t interfere. May findings sila, good,” he said. “I-file niyo ang kaso pero hindi ko pabayaan itong mga pulis na sabit.”
(To tell you, I don’t interfere. They have findings, good. File the case but I won’t leave the policemen implicated in the killing.)
Duterte earlier drew flak after admitting himself that he reinstated Marcos the same day he was relieved.
In a Senate hearing last Monday, Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa said he ordered the administrative relief of Marcos last October 15 because he wanted to investigate Marcos amid reports that he was receiving drug payola. Duterte's order, however, allowed Marcos to walk free.
Two weeks later, Marcos led a team in the November 5 predawn raid of Baybay sub-provincial jail in Leyte, which led to the killing of Mayor Espinosa.
The NBI on Tuesday said Espinosa’s killing was a "rubout" that could be part of a much bigger conspiracy.
"After conducting an exhaustive investigation of the incidents surrounding the killing of Mayor Espinosa and Yap, the NBI concluded that the testimonies of several witnesses had disputed the claim of an alleged shootout between the [Criminal Investigation and Detection Group] operatives and inmates Mayor Espinosa and Raul Yap but a 'rubout,'" the NBI said in a statement on Tuesday.
The bureau issued the statement after revealing that it has filed multiple criminal charges against Supt. Marvin Marcos and police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) members in Region 8 for the death of Espinosa.
Based on the evidence, the NBI said "it is patently clear that the acts of the CIDG 8 operatives showed a community of purpose or an implied conspiracy."
"There was unison in their purpose and action, signifying that they were all moved by a single criminal intent," it said.
Espinosa and fellow inmate Yap were killed inside the Baybay sub-provincial jail in Leyte last November 5 after the mayor allegedly shot at police officers who were serving a search warrant.
But the NBI said there was "no indication" that the operatives who participated in the operation desisted or those who acted as lookouts prevented the team from shooting the victims.
It added that the warrant was "maliciously obtained" because the information or affidavit it was based on was perjured.
Asked why the CIDG operatives would go through so much effort to get a warrant, NBI spokesman Deputy Dir. Ferdinand Lavin said he believes they wanted to use it as a "cover of legitimacy" while they execute their plan.