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Lacson on Duterte's order to reinstate Marcos: Put*ng I*a

Sen. Panfilo Lacson was frustrated and upset with the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to reinstate policemen involved in the killing of a former Leyte mayor. Panfilo Lacson/Released

MANILA, Philippines — Senators on Thursday could not hide their disgust at the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to reinstate a Leyte cop and his men who were suspended for their alleged involvement in the murder of a former mayor, with the head of the Senate panel which investigated the incident spewing an invective to describe the move.

On Wednesday, Duterte announced that he had ordered the return to active service of Superintendent Marvin Marcos and his 18 men who were accused of orchestrating the killing of former Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa and his cell mate, saying that the leader of the CIDG raiding team should be reactivated as he was far from the location of the incident.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, head of the Senate panel on public order which launched an investigation into the death of Espinosa and inmate Raul Yap last year, summed up his frustration in the words Duterte regularly uses to lash out at his critics: “In sum, there is a phrase to describe this whole damn thing: Put*ng I*a!”

In March, Lacson’s panel and the Senate Committee on Justice chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon found that the police involved in the operation tried to conceal their involvement in the narcotics trade of Espinosa.

The 34-page Senate report said that the killing of Espinosa was premediated and involved abuse of authority.

“Although the Committee 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 out to a systematic 'clean up' made on any living trace that may reveal their involvement in the Espinosa drug trade,” it read.

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The report also criticized Duterte for “micromanaging” the police as it said that the deaths could have been prevented had the order of Philippine National Police Chief Ronald Dela Rosa to relieve the police officers not been countermanded by the president.

“It is also worth noting that PSUPT (Marvin) Marcos and his men from CIDG-8 could have been prevented from doing their dastardly deed as they had been relieved by PNP Chief Dela Rosa prior to November 05, 2016. Yet, as borne by the record and the testimony of the PNP Chief, his order was rescinded and PSupt. Marcos’ team was reinstated by President Duterte,” said the report.

Lacson said that Duterte’s order basically disregarded the “conspiracy angle” that the Senate panels discovered.

The decision gave Marcos “back-to-duty status,” not reinstatement, after serving his four-month suspension order in the “slap-on-the-wrist” administrative penalty imposed by the PNP, Lacson said.

“It is not even a reinstatement. Rather, it was back-to-duty status after serving his 4-month suspension order incorporated in a ‘slap-on-the-wrist’ administrative penalty imposed on Marcos by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Internal Affairs Service…approved by PNP chief Dela Rosa,” he said.

The president’s decision, despite a finding by the National Bureau of Investigation that the killings were extrajudicial, was a way for Duterte to protect himself as these policemen knew his involvement in the incident, according to Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

“Duterte not only set the murderers free, he now gave back their badges and guns so they could murder again with impunity. Why? Because Duterte fears that these policemen might rat out on him for what they know about his involvement in the Espinosa murder,” Trillanes, a staunch critic of the president, said.

He said that Espinosa “ended up getting murdered by Marcos’ group” right after Duterte ordered his reactivation following Dela Rosa’s order of suspension for his alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade and for not having the needed educational qualifications to be part of the CIDG.

The latest development in the case of Marcos and his men will further “tarnish” the PNP as an institution, according to Sen. Grace Poe.

She said that this move would encourage a “culture of impunity” among the police who have been accused of both local and international groups for their alleged human rights violations in the conduct of the president’s campaign against illegal drugs.

“The PNP could very well carry out its duties in protecting our people without somebody like Marcos and his cohorts,” Poe, who was defeated by Duterte in last year’s presidential election, said.

The leader of the opposition Liberal Party said that the senators who signed the Lacson and Gordon committee report should “close ranks” and fulfill their duty as a check and balance on Duterte.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, president of the LP, said that it was disturbing that Duterte disregarded the findings of the NBI and the Senate that the killings pointed to murder.

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