SENATOR Franklin Drilon believed that Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd and other officials had a hand in an alleged “cover-up” to downgrade the charges against a police official accused in the murder of a former Leyte mayor.
Supt. Marvin Marcos, former chief of Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of Eastern Visayas, and 18 other policemen had been charged with the murder of Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa and fellow inmate Raul Yap in November 2016.
“It’s part of the cover-up, particularly in the case of USec. Arceo. It’s quite clear that they conspired to hide the truth. The NBI said, (it’s) murder; the Senate said, murder; the Secretary of Justice told the Senate, murder,” Drilon said in an interview after the Senate hearing on the controversy on Wednesday.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Senate had concluded that the killings of Espinosa and Yap were premeditated.
Marcos and his group had sought a review of the NBI’s findings by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Justice Undersecretary Reynante Arceo eventually overturned the NBI’s findings due to lack of evidence that showed that the accused had conspired to kill the victims.
He resolved to downgrade the murder charges against Marcos, which Aguirre later approved.
“Arceo said, he did not hear all of these (testimonies), these are not in the record. So, it’s clear there is a cover-up. And the one leading this is the head of the Department of Justice,” said Drilon, referring to Aguirre.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald de la Rosa, however, denied there was a cover-up in downgrading the charges against Marcos and his men.
“First of all we must clarify this. We were not absolving them of their wrongdoing. The decision that was rendered on them was demotion and suspension. So, their status is still in active duty,” de la Rosa said in an interview.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, conducted a public hearing on the downgrading of the charges against Marcos and his men, as well as their reinstatement.
“Well apparently there is (a cover-up). Let’s find out. We’re thinking of conducting another hearing. That’s why we suspend the hearing since there might be some committee members who might want to ask questions but could not make it today,” he said.
Lacson said Arceo acted outside of his authority to overturn the findings of the NBI recommending the filing of murder charges against Marcos and his group.