The latest Dutertantic, the reinstatement of a police officer accused of the murder (a charge later reduced to homicide) of a town mayor while in jail for drug dealing, has elicited an uproar, with cries of outrage emanating from the Senate and from various sectors. I myself thought: I knew it. This man is flaunting his power, an in-your-face act: Suck it up, folks, there is nothing you can do.
Well, Reader, I read all the files and watched the YouTube videos on the Marvin Marcos-Rolando Espinosa episode, and I have this to say, from hindsight: We should have seen it coming. President Duterte’s behavior now is no different from his behavior throughout the episode.
The Senate committees on public order and dangerous drugs and on justice and human rights, after three hearings and one executive session, concluded that “the killing of Mayor Espinosa inside the Leyte Sub-Provincial Jail was premeditated and with abuse of authority on the part of the operatives of CIDG-8” (which Superintendent Marcos headed).
What was the motive? “Although the Committees recognize and give due respect to the authority of the courts to determine the guilt of the police officers involved in the operation, the Committees are convinced that the circumstances point to a systematic ‘clean up’ made on any living trace that may reveal their involvement in the Espinosa drug trade.”
How did the President react to this? Read his deathless prose: “I don’t care if there is even a thousand committees. I will insist on the truthfulness of the police and I will defend them. Basta huwag lang yung abuso.”
If that is not contempt for a coequal body, the Senate, I don’t know what is. But I never heard a peep out of that body in its defense. Note that the President thinks that everybody else was lying in the hearings (including, apparently, the widow of a slain police officer who accused Marcos of being responsible for that slaying). In other words, it was Mr. Duterte and the police against the Senate.
Mr. Duterte also said the public should just “wait if the case is filed in court. That would be the proper [forum] where we can discuss it thoroughly.” He is a stickler for the rule of law, say his pals Sal Panelo and Gen. Dionisio Santiago. Okay. Maybe even great.
Aside from the Senate, the National Bureau of Investigation—an agency under the Department of Justice and thus the President—also found, based on forensic investigations (direction of the bullets) and other evidence, that there was no shootout, as the CIDG-8 claimed, but rather a rubout. It recommended multiple murder charges against the police officers.
How did Mr. Duterte react? Read his deathless prose: “I will not allow these guys to go to prison maski na sabihin ng NBI murder (even if the NBI says it was murder)…” He added, referring to the NBI: Eh tutal, under ko rin yan (Anyway, it is also under me).”
Contempt for his subordinates. Again, Mr. Duterte and the police against the world. Questions: I thought he was a stickler for the rule of law? Or, does this statement mean that he can override the investigation results, because he is the boss?
Then his police chief, PNP Director General Bato dela Rosa, decides to relieve Marcos of his post due to his (Marcos’) suspected drug links. What does the President do? He orders Bato to reinstate Marcos. It seems, therefore, that it is not Mr. Duterte and the police against the world, it is Mr. Duterte and some police officers against the world.
Later, maybe because the NBI is too low on the totem pole—although Mr. Duterte has been politely accused by the Senate of micromanaging the police (he is more used to this because of his experience as mayor)—he decides to pressure Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre. And Aguirre decides that the NBI inquiry merited only a homicide charge (no premeditation), even though in the Senate hearings, he had agreed with the senators.
What was the effect of this? Marcos et al. were released on bail—and the promise of Mr. Duterte (see the foregoing) is fulfilled. Mr. Duterte was consistent throughout.
Fie on the Senate, fie on the NBI, fie on the PNP head. And now, with the reinstatement, fie on the Filipino people.
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