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Palace: Duterte did not mean he will interfere in Espinosa case

In this September 2016 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte addresses a crowd at Malacañan Palace. PPD/Robinson Ninal, file

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday said President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that he will not let police officers implicated in the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. go to jail should not be taken to mean the president will interfere in the case.

In its own statement, the Presidential Communications Office said Duterte supports the National Bureau of Investigation’s move to file cases against Eastern Visayas police officers accused of murdering Espinosa and another inmate at the Baybay sub-provincial jail in Leyte.

Espinosa was in jail over drug and firearms possession charges.

“What should be underscored is the very clear statement of the president that while he continues to adhere to the presumption of regularity in the PNP's performance of its duties, he states in no uncertain terms that he will not interfere with any legal proceeding which will be brought against some members of the police force who are suspected of wrongdoing,” the Palace said.

On Wednesday, Duterte said that he "will not allow these guys to go to prison."
 
He also said: "Bahala sila sabihin ng NBI na murder. E tutal under ko ang NBI, under ko rin 'yang Department of Justice (It's up to the NBI to say it's murder. After all, NBI is under me. The Department of Justice is also under me)."
 
The president later said: "They (NBI) have findings, good. File the case."

The Palace however, said Duterte’s statement that he would stand by the implicated police officers was to boost their morale.

“The recent pronouncements of the president pertaining to the PNP, standing by his men, are critical to maintaining their high morale, with the end in view of succeeding in the anti-drug campaign,” the statement read.

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“It should not be misinterpreted to mean that the president will intervene in investigations or any legal proceedings in order to exculpate erring cops,” it added.

Duterte had earlier exercised his authority over the executive branch of government by having PNP Director General Ronald Dela Rosa reinstate Superintendent Marvin Marcos, who had been relieved from his post as regional head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Region 8 after being tagged as a drug trade coddler by confessed drug distributor Kerwin Espinosa, reinstated.

Kerwin is the late mayor's son. Duterte had earlier accused them of being involved in drugs. The elder Espinosa surrendered, then sought police protection and was later arrested. Kerwin left the country and was arrested in Abu Dhabi. He has since been repatriated.

"I do not have to explain to you, the whole republic and the critics, why I made the order for him (PNP chief) just to sit down and do not remove him (Marcos)," Duterte said on Monday. 

RELATED: Duterte won't abandon cops in Espinosa slay

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