MANILA, Philippines - He does not casually spew expletives, but this time Sen. Panfilo Lacson found no other way to describe the reinstatement of Supt. Marvin Marcos and 18 other policemen involved in the killing of Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa.
“In sum, there is a phrase to describe this whole damn thing: p***** ina (son of a b***h)!”
Lacson, who spearheaded the Senate’s inquiry into the killing of Espinosa, could not hide his disgust over the entire situation, starting from the downgrading of charges against the policemen and now, their return to active duty.
After their cases were downgraded from murder to homicide through the efforts of state prosecutors of the Department of Justice, Marcos and his men were let out on bail and are now back on duty.
Lacson said he does not see Marcos’ case as a reinstatement, but rather a “back-to-duty status after serving his four-month suspension order incorporated in a ‘slap-on-the-wrist’ administrative penalty” imposed by the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s Internal Affairs Service (IAS) and subsequently approved by PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa.
“According to the decision, Marcos was not physically present when the raiding team killed Espinosa and Raul Yap, but outside supervising the operation. The others were given demotions and six-month suspensions. This effectively disregarded the conspiracy angle,” Lacson said.
Lacson, who chairs the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, said he intends to bring up the issue of Marcos when he calls for a hearing on the various bills filed regarding the reorganization of the IAS.
Senators were one with Lacson in airing their disappointment over the development.
Sen. Grace Poe said there was clearly probable cause that led to the filing of a case of murder against Marcos and his men, so how they got off so easily would have an effect on the image of the PNP as a whole.
“Therefore, his reinstatement to active duty may further tarnish the PNP as an institution that should value and uphold the rule of law in the performance of duty. Such reinstatement may just encourage a culture of impunity among the ranks,” Poe said.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said he and his fellow senators were all convinced during the course of the inquiry held at the Senate that the killing of Espinosa was premeditated.
Gatchalian said he would like to hear from the DOJ on how it arrived at its decision to downgrade the charges against Marcos and his men.
For Gatchalian, they are clearly scalawags who do not deserve to remain in the PNP.
“This will send a very bad signal to scalawags who are in the police force and we don’t want these scalawags to gain any confidence. What we want is a police force that follows the law,” Gatchalian said.
Deputy Senate Minority Leader Paolo Benigno Aquino IV said that the reinstatement of these “murderous cops” poses a danger to the Filipino people.
“This was clearly a case of the law being disregarded and strengthening the culture of violence in the country,” Aquino said.
“We should put an end to the harboring of criminals within the PNP and let justice prevail. Criminals should be held accountable, whether they are policemen, people in power and friends of the most powerful people.”
Sen. Francis Pangilinan said the developments in the case of Marcos and his men were very disturbing, considering that both the Senate and the National Bureau of Investigation found that it was a clear case of murder.
“We hope the members of the Senate majority who signed the committee report will close ranks and fulfill its duty to act as a check and balance on the executive branch,” he said.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros said it was “outright obstruction of justice from the highest level of governance and executive promotion of extrajudicial killings.”
“For those who still deny that there are state-sanctioned killings, here is damning proof. The Senate and even the (NBI) concluded that the death of Espinosa is a case of extrajudicial killing. How can President Duterte dismiss those findings? For the President to order the reinstatement of Marcos absolves him and his men of any wrongdoing,” Hontiveros said, as she reminded Dela Rosa, her “mistah and old friend,” that the real waste of taxpayers’ money are bad cops and injustices.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said Duterte practically handed back the badges and guns of the murderers so that “they could murder again with impunity.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Richard Gordon said Duterte was wrong in backing up Marcos and his men, and that the President should not risk his political capital on such cases, especially those where he ends up interfering in the justice system.
Gordon blamed the people around Duterte, particularly citing Dela Rosa and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, for either giving him bad advice or not advising him at all.
“There are cowards around the President who don’t want to say the truth,” Gordon said.
For Sen. Leila de Lima, while the reinstatement of Marcos and his men was no longer a surprise to her, what was shocking was “the obvious and inescapable conclusion that these actions by Duterte have been adopted with the illegitimate purpose of affording criminals immunity.”