Why is Duterte so quiet about the rubout of the century?

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RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

It’s been three days (as of this writing) since more than 15 policemen of the Eastern Visayas Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) motored for several hours from their headquarters in Tacloban City, to arrive in Baybay City in the wee hours of the morning, occupied the sub-provincial jail, disarmed its warden and guards, and executed Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa with their Armalite rifles. The detained mayor had been awakened by the surprise visit of the police search team and asked if he could first go to the toilet. The scene was like shooting a goldfish in a fish bowl, or a sick dog in a pen.

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Espinosa, as everyone in the country would know by now after Duterte himself named him as a drug lord, was to become a star whistleblower for the President’s anti-drug campaign.

His alleged ‘affidavit’ pinpointed protectors of his son’s illegal-drug syndicate, with Senator Leila de Lima at the top of the list and 225 others, including 19 politicians, four judges, 38 policemen, seven CIDG agents, a Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency operative, three from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, one Army man, and three from the media.

I haven’t heard of a case that had involved such a brazen execution of a star witness, or anybody else for that matter. In a cell, by policemen? Even in the most imaginative mafia movie, the assassins of a stool pigeon were hardened inmates — not a platoon of policemen disarming jail guards. Even Marcos and his henchmen at the apex of the dictatorship couldn’t have thought of such an execution.

The killing of Espinosa would, without a doubt, be known as the ‘rubout of the century,’ the most brazen ever here or even elsewhere in the civilized world.

(L) Would-be-whistleblower Mayor Espinosa, executed. (R) Half a day later, PNP Chief de la Rosa, unruffled on the ring celebrating Pacquiao’s victory with Chavit Singson and Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach

(L) Would-be-whistleblower Mayor Espinosa, executed. (R) Half a day later, PNP Chief de la Rosa, unruffled on the ring celebrating Pacquiao’s victory with Chavit Singson and Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach

And to think that Espinosa on nationwide television appealed to his son in August: “Surrender na lang tayo kasi tutulungan naman tayo ng ating Presidente at ng ating PNP chief (Director General) General Ronald Dela Rosa.” (Let’s just surrender, because you see, the President and the PNP chief would help us.)

Marcos had a search warrant
What should add to our outrage is that the head of the Eastern Visayas CIDG, Police Superintendent (Lt. Col.) Marvin Marcos, who approved the operation led by Chief Inspector (Major) Leo Laraga, takes us for fools.

They claimed he was holding a search warrant, and based on the claim of an informant he wouldn’t name, there were guns in Espinosa’s cell. Obviously so that it wouldn’t appear the CIDG platoon’s aim was to exterminate Espinosa, another inmate, Raul Yap, was also killed as he allegedly had a gun and even illegal drugs in his cell.

Such ruthless slaughter was undertaken with a very bad script, as Senator Panfilo Lacson and Rep. Romeo Acop, both former police generals familiar with these things, said. Bad, I think since these people think they can either fool us, or frighten us to believe their preposterous story.

I find it strange that the PNP chief, after presumably having been told of the execution, didn’t rush home from his junket in Las Vegas to watch Manny Paquiao’s championship. After all, he had given Espinosa and his son Kerwin his personal protection, that they wouldn’t be killed if they became state witnesses.

What I found stranger, though — and worrying — is that the usually loquacious President Duterte has been totally mum over this crime, which is really a slap on his face, as executed by the police who have been undertaking his war on drugs, his overarching project since he assumed office in July.

He had blown his top and called Ambassador Philip Goldberg an idiot and a gay when the US envoy said that extrajudicial killings threatened our rule of law. He went into a paroxysm of anger and blurted out “putang ina” when a reporter baited him with a question about what to say if President Obama raised in an upcoming APEC meeting with him the issue of extrajudicial killings.

But over the Espinosa killing, he has been as timid and quiet as a sheep.

I would have cheered him if he appeared on national TV hours after Espinosa’s killing and shouted putang-ina several times, and addressed a crisp curse at his factotum PNP Chief Ronald de la Rosa (Who was in Las Vegas three days before to watch Manny Pacquiao’s championship fight): “Putangina ina mo Bato, huwag mo nang panoorin si Pacquiao at umuwi ka na at pinatay ng mga bata mo ang star witness ko laban kay de Lima.”

It’s been surreal that not a single word has been heard from our crime-busting President, as if he had not even been informed or heard of the Espinosa execution.

Two speeches, not one word on Espinosa
He made two speeches the other day. In that one on the occasion of the swearing in of the new officers of the National Press Club (NPC), he rambled for over half-hour on various topics – from his view that not all the media men who were gunned down were targeted because they were doing their job but for some other reason, to why he doesn’t support the past administration’s commitments to the world to reduce its carbon emissions but would still have to honor it.

In both speeches, Duterte has said not one word on the Espinosa rubout. It’s a demonstration of the sorry state of the media that the new officers of the NPC didn’t approach him to ask him about the mayor’s brazen murder.

While he hasn’t said a word on the killing, the PNP has been in disarray, with its top officials sending conflicting messages on what happened.

Police Chief Inspector (Major) Jovie Espenido, Albuera municipal police chief, was livid as he asked, sarcastically, why Espinosa was killed over one gun. “It will have a chilling effect on the other witnesses against police and government officials,” he added. Guards of the municipal jail narrated over TV news broadcasts how they were disarmed and threatened to be shot if they resisted, how the CIDG cut the cell’s chains with a bolt cutter they brought with them, and how one police officer shot Espinosa, right after he asked if he could go to the toilet. The CIDG agents, they claimed, very methodically ripped out the hard disc that contained the closed-circuit TV video of those hours, and took it with them.

Police Superintendent Marcos, the CIDG officer who led the raid, arrogantly claimed during a TV interview that he and his men had no choice but to kill Espinosa because he fought back. As if oblivious to the consequences of such brazen slaughter of a whistleblower, Police Deputy Director General Francisco Uyami Jr. said the incident would be investigated as “a matter of standard procedure.”

Duterte cannot underestimate the consequences of the Espinosa killing and his lack of leadership – so far – in this episode.

Even Senators Panfilo Lacson and Richard Gordon — who defended him against the onslaught of Senator Leila de Lima to prove him responsible for the extrajudicial killings since he assumed power — wouldn’t accept the PNP’s absurd explanation. The Yellow Cult has smelled blood, with its leader, former President Noynoy Aquino, apparently waking up from his stupor to arrogantly tell the media that he is “monitoring the case.”

Duterte’s apparent paralysis in the past three days over the Espinosa slay would be in the same scale as those of President Benigno Aquino 3rd in the Luneta hostage crisis and the Mamasapano massacre.

A strong response needed
While I would think that Duterte and his advisers, especially the veterans of so many political crises, would certainly know how to handle the crisis, a strong response would involve the following steps:

1. Duterte must order the suspension of all officers of the CIDG’s Eastern Visayas command and policemen involved in the raid on the Baybay jail, and have them taken to Camp Crame to be “kept” in circumstances that they would be unable to communicate with each other or with anyone else for the whole duration of an official inquiry into the case. This would ensure that they would be unable to concoct a false explanation or threaten or bribe those such as the jail personnel who witnessed the raid. The Baybay City jail’s warden and staff must also be brought to Manila and kept in secret locations to ensure their safety.

2. Duterte must order the CIDG, the PNP’s Internal Affairs, and even the National Police Commission to stop their announced plans to investigate the incident. Instead, it is solely the justice secretary, using the NBI, which is under his authority, or any other government agency that should investigate the case. Duterte must use his persuasive powers over Congress to request them to wait for the Justice Secretary’s report before they undertake their own investigation in aid of legislation.

3. Duterte must require the justice secretary to submit his report in 15 or even 30 days at most. This wouldn’t be at all difficult. Those involved wouldn’t number more than 30 — the CIDG national head who approved the raid, the CIDG Region 8 head, Marcos, CIDG officer Laraga, who led the team that executed Espinosa, together with his officers and men, the Baybay City jail warden and staff, and the inmates who witnessed the rubout. How would that be difficult?

The highest officer who is really accountable for this shame on the nation is of course, PNP Chief Director General Ronald de la Rosa. What kind of a message did his behavior send to the PNP, appearing unruffled by the rubout back home and staying on to enjoy watching the Pacquiao fight in Las Vegas? Just five months in his high-profile strategic job, with the war against illegal drugs still unwon, and he takes a one-week vacation?

The strongest message Duterte could send – that he is undaunted in his war against crime – is to fire de la Rosa. But there seems to be no other such person Duterte can trust, or follow his orders without question.

The nation and I, myself, have been cheering Duterte’s fight against illegal drugs and crime. But then his own police officials undertook one of the dastardliest crimes this nation has seen. What a pathetic country we’ve become.

E-mail: tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao and Bobi Tiglao

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45 Comments

  1. Tiglao’s article fell short of being well-written, especially with the last sentence. What did this crime have to do with our country becoming pathetic? Our country is already in a pitiful state for decades now. I also do not believe that Duterte’s silence was in any way parallel to Aquino’s guilty silence during the Luneta and Mamasapano incidents.

  2. Rizalito David on

    Only a madman will defend the actuations of those responsible for the Espinosa brutal murder. Sadly though as expected, Digong defended the CIDG butchers. Who ordered the execution? That is something only a moron would still guess. I am more interested now with Rigoberto D. Tiglao​’s sentiments. Is he now changing his mind and withdrawing his support from Duterte?

    • Arthur Saint John on

      Try to analyze the statement of Pres. Duterte about Espino’s case in his recent arrival speech. That’s a psywar…..

  3. It is shameful to watch how even good people are talking violence. Nobody is listening to the facts or responding properly. The only trickle down effect we are getting here is a violent one. Thank goodness for people like Mr. Tiglao and his factual reporting while trying to open peoples minds (peacefully) through the media.

  4. Thank you again for a well written factual commentary. This country needs people like you to stand up for justice because there certainly isn’t any justice being done from the PNP. We all knew this would get out of control. When the leader of a country incites violence by telling his people to kill one another there is nothing good ever going to come out of that. It is now so brazenly despicable that it is embarrassing.
    I don’t think this new US president will tolerate being called names. I hope the President makes some drastic changes (for the better) soon.

  5. wala pang 1 week, gusto nyo na ng verdict kahit wala pang investigation? there will be an overkill of investigations, Senate, CHR, PNP. PDEA, NBI, DoJ. So what do you want the president to do? bypass the investigations? and your suggestion to tell Bato not to watch the Pacquiao fight, is a stupid suggestion. Why cancel a free ticket (from Pacman) to watch history in the making just for Mayor “fucking” Espinosa? ang bobo mo tiglao. Bobo talaga. Besides hindi gagawin ni Duterte para lang bumilib ka, bakit? sino ka ba? reporter ka lang eh.

  6. Duterte already made a commentment to a reporter’s question before he left for Malaysia “sre you appalled at the killing of Mayor Espinosa?”
    Duterte’s reply (w/c i agree with) : “why should i be appalled? i will abide by the investigations.”

  7. What are Filipinos waiting for when there is carnage going on every day?

    The lies, the cover-ups, the conspiracies, the deafening silence is tantamount to make the paasive Filipino devoud of conscience.

  8. dotherightthing on

    Hindi naman siguro tanga ang Pangulo ng Pilipinas… maghintay lang tayo sa patas na imbestigasyon… lalabas ang tunay na may pakana ng pagpatay kay mayor espinosa…

  9. Perhaps only Bong Go knows the President very well but I think Digong has the grasp of what;s really going on now, sample is his first hand knowledge of the ongoing kidnapping incidents at China town which was denied by the NCRPO and the still brisk business of Abu Sayyaf’s brutal abduction of foreigners, he is aware of the “goliath” (alliance of the yellow gods, CHR, PNP & military generals with the backing of US) that he has to deal with. His silence on this issue is a strategy.

  10. Excellent article Mr. Tiglao. The steps that you have outlined which the authorities should take to get to the bottom of these prison killings are indeed necessary.

  11. I will say it again and hope the Manila Times censors would allow me to. Money is very tempting and corrupting especially if it is in the billions. I would be wary of PNP Chief de la Rosa, and not surprised that Duterte is silent. The President is smarter than we all realize, and he probably knows by now there is no one, not even de la Rosa, who can be trusted in the war against drugs.

    • If I am Bato, I will be wary about the real intent of Duterte. Duterte announced he did not allow the reassignment of the suspect CIDG personnel involved in Espinosa’s liquidation as he is short of police on the field. Wow na wow.

  12. Hi Boby, kindly remind the Pres. on this issue, he must at least say something to the public about this. i fully support his no non sense drive against illegal drugs even turning blind to those spate of killings (actually I love it and I dont care if he will kill 100k criminals until end of his term). but what happen to Espinosa can’t be tolerated.

    • Arthur Saint John on

      These 2 guys who were killed were obviously drug lords who probably destroyed hundred of thousands or million of Filipinos. With the justice system in the Philippines, do you think justice will serve to the victims of these two drug lords within a year? Even justice is served, how can we be sure that they will not go back to their drug business after duterte’s term?

  13. Mr Tiglao.. dont blame anyone. There is no point. The 1st step is to bring out those CIDG & castrate them, or press their ball or testilce till they shout out who are behind the killing.

    Then those department who allow them will be the 2nd castation. Ofcourse ths people has great motive by supposting this CIDG.

    For BATO.. too bad, he is too early to be cute, He have not prove anything yet from their Drug stopping campaign he can watch PACMAN in the TV without neglecting his prime duty. I think there is a need for him to be castrate also.

  14. Arthur Saint John on

    I think Pres. Duterte is not stupid to author this kind of killing of prisoners by CIDG, Doesn’t make any sense to me. These drug protectors are cleaning their ranks wherein the president has no interest at all. Why wasting his time and saliva for the killing of criminals by other criminals? That’s how simple it is…

    • Leodegardo Pruna on

      But those who killed the mayor were policemen not criminals who simply emerged without any warning. PDu30 has to at least clarify and come out with orders or explanations. God bless the Philippines.

    • He wastes saliva talking about the VP’s legs. Shows he has got plenty of time to indulge whenever he wants to.

  15. Duterte already expressed his frustration over 10,000 narcopoliticans, saying if he names them all, we will cry. The narcopolitics is much more horrible than anyone can imagine. The President is surrounded by armed men whom he can never trust. This is indeed a thankless job for someone trying his best to save the Philippines from certain destruction

  16. There was a post on FB, just before the killing of Espinosa, that Pres Duterte collapsed from exhaustion.Never saw it again. Any
    connection to his non action, if this was even true? It has not appeared again.

  17. excellent editorial… but what is bothersome is that it does not sum up… the actions are without logic… unless the mayor was out to be silenced forever… hmmm…

  18. I think he now realizes that the drug lords are fighting back and one thing he does not want to show is a predictable reaction. The old man is a student of Sun Tzu.

  19. The root of this rub out was this word uttered by
    Duterte: Walang makakasuhang Police sa “war on drugs” under my presidency. Tandaan nyo yan.
    Blanket authority given to the PNP with chilling effect to ordinary citizens, to drug lords/pushers who are behind bars.
    God, help this country

    • The Espinosa rubout was scripted by people with very low IQ. Now DU30 was shocked that those policemen whom he promised freedom from jail while waging the “war on drugs” performed awfully on stage. Walang creativity, halatang-halata, kapag pulis ang gumagawa ng krimen. The putang-ina of DU30 must have already been delivered to the CIDG and to the Bato-bato sa langit, ang tamaan huwag magagalit.

  20. du30 is obviously mad as hell over this incident. he would not want to be provoked into saying what’s inside him because it would mean cursing and castigating his men most esp. gen. bato de la rosa – this guy, after only 5 months as pnp head has developed celebrity status mentality… sa dami ng problema ng bansa inuna pa ang panonood ng boxing. maybe he did not go to las vegas to watch the boxing match but more importantly to be seen and rub elbows with internationally popular celebrities. what a shame. he should have rushed back to manila to attend the to the ‘burning house’.

  21. Something fishy is going on. And with the SC justices voting in favor of Marcos’ burial at LNMB, these recent events point out at one thing: Destabilization. Somebody cooked these up to fuel the anger of the loyal supporters of the Yellows, which will eventually lead to, what else, “People Power Movement”.

  22. Your thoughts is also my thoughts, Sir! WHY is the President wordless? WHY is Bato all smiles (with Pacman) upon arrival from the USA despite his big problem? W H Y oh W H Y oh W H Y ???
    Both of them are seemingly not affected by the late mayor’s treacherous death.

  23. jose b. taganahan on

    The President maybe silent on the murder of the late Mayor Espinosa inside a government prison cell by policemen because in an affidavit allegedly executed by the late Mayor, one of the drug lords named in the affidavit was Peter Lim, the “kumpadre” of President Duterte. Peter Lim was even given an audience by the President in Davao City but until now was not charged with any crime by this administration even if Duterte himself also named Peter Lim as one of the drug lords in his first list of drug lords and drug lord protectors released to the media.

  24. true to his character pdu30 is one of a kind, he, only he, knows what is his next moved,remember when jb says he will talk only to the president of what he knows about the bnp drug syndication,he caught everyone off guard when he said he dont talk to criminals meaning convicts.then when he says he talk to god about he’s swearing everybody jump the gun on him,hehehe ,joke lang pala,now this? yun mga keyboard warriors like you mr t.are having a ball pounding on him, HAMBUG,

  25. Yes,Sir I agree with you without any reservation.It seems we have two successive presidents who will lead us to total perdition.This is too much.I support a war against drugs and all forms of criminality even to the extent of using extra powers but what is happening is a bloodbath.I wonder what will satisfy the bloodlust of the man in Malacanang.

  26. It is obvious that you are not a fan of Digong. Have you ask yourself who will benefit most if Espinosa is out of the picture on Digong’s drug war? The people who wants to eliminate drugs or the people who wants to propagate drugs? There are stray dogs in the police force who most likely did the EJK. Their sole motive is to silence their enemy so they can continue their drug business as usual.

    • If you follow this guy he had been digong since the start, I my self had been defending the president but since this incident I am questioning, why the hell isnt the whole of CIDG PRO8 isnt in Basilan or in Zamboanga right now. its either that Drugs is so entrenched from in the government that this kind of rubbout or the Hit on Espinosa was ordered by the government itself the relief of Marcos isnt enough the whole of the CIDG PRO8 should be out of work or out of that region ang put into mindanao since they are so tough on giving warrant of arrest why dont they give the warrant to the Maute group.
      Again this is a call to action on the Police to remove all of that of the PRO8 from the head (incompetence) down to the last man . Then we know that the president hates people who makes a fool out of him and the people.

  27. I am not a great fan of Mr. Tiglao but this time I completely agree with him on his outrage against the brazen killing of Mayor Espinosa inside his cell by supposed protectors of the people.

  28. What good is it for any alleged drug dealer to surrender if they are going to be lied to and executed anyway? Beware, because the day may come when other groups or categories of people are hunted down for whatever claimed reason.

  29. DU30 speaking on Espinosa will add 1 more voice to the disparate cacophony of voices talking over each other. Its best that the matter be investigated credibly and swift justice applied to those involved.

  30. I agree, Dela Rosa’s choice of staying with Pacquiao is a really wrong move.
    He may not make it in time if he opted to go home, but him staying in Vegas created much doubt about his attitude being an officer.

    If he keeps doing such acts, he’s no different from Napenas who went partying while his men are being slaughtered.

    • Remember that catch-phrase “weder weder lang?” That’s the attitude of those in power now. Propriety is not in their vocabulary. No different from past administrations.

  31. The CIDG raiding team knew that this is a very high value target. That they are going to be in trouble unless the 15 police are so stupid. Somebody promised them protection. That is the only credible answer. This person must hold a very high position in government’ that these police believed him and risked their jobs and their future. I am sure that these 15 policemen will be out of work and might go to prison. Like the police that killed Benigno Aquino.