MANY government officials and private citizens found the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. questionable but as far as President Rodrigo Duterte is concerned, there is nothing puzzling about the incident.
As he is wont to, Duterte expressed support to the police, saying he sees nothing wrong in the killing of Espinosa inside his cell at the Baybay City provincial jail in Leyte.
“Why should I be puzzled? You have here a guy, a government employee, using his office and money of government, cooking shabu and destroying the lives of so many millions of Filipino. So what is then for me to say about it?” the President said during a news conference before leaving for his official trips to Thailand and Malaysia.
“I will not go there to find fault with the police. I did not even agree that they should be transferred, at least not now. Kasi pagka ganoon wala ng pulis magtrabaho [Because if you are (fault-finding) no policemen will work anymore],” he added.
Espinosa was shot dead because he allegedly tried to shoot at the policemen who were about to serve a search warrant in his cell. Another inmate, Raul Yap, was also shot dead.
The President has linked the Espinosas to the illegal drug trade and in August called on the mayor and his son Kerwin to surrender.
Espinosa has been detained since early October for illegal possession of firearms and illegal drugs. He was among the first local chief executives to surrender to the police after being linked to illegal drugs.
19 policemen face probe
At least 19 policemen are being investigated in connection with the killing of Espinosa on November 5.
The Philippine National Police Internal Affairs Service (PNP-IAS) is looking into the incident.
“Naaawa kami sa PNP, naaawa kami kay Presidente. [We feel sorry for the PNP, we feel sorry for President Duterte.] Their credibility is at stake here, but we assure [the public that]we will not whitewash anything. We will investigate the matter thoroughly,” Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno said Wednesday.
Of the 19 policemen, 13 are from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Region 8 and six are from the Regional Maritime Unit also in Region 8.
The CIDG personnel are Supt. Santi Noel G. Matira, Chief Insp. Leo D. Laraga, Senior Insp. Deogracias Diaz 3rd, Senior Insp. Fritz Blanco, SPO4 Juanito Duarte, SPO4 Melvin Cayobit, SPO2 Benjamin Dacallos, SPO2 Alphinor Serrano Jr., PO3 Jhonny Ibanez, PO3 Norman Abellanosa, PO1 Bernard Orpilla, PO1 Lloyd Ortiguesa and PO1 Jerlan Cabiyaan. They were the members of the team that served the search warrant on Espinosa.
The other lawmen who participated as a support team to the CIDG group are Chief Insp. Calixto C. Canillas, Senior Insp. Lucrecito A. Candilosas, SPO2 Antonio R. Docil, SPO1 Mark Christian C. Cadilo, PO2 Jhon Ruel Ducolan and PO2 Jaime P. Bacsal.
The interior secretary said the PNP-IAS is also considering looking into the possible involvement of the chief of the Maritime Group Region 8, whom he did not name.
“We welcome the investigations being conducted by other agencies and bodies because more than anyone else, we want to get to the bottom of this incident so we can carry out the necessary actions. The NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) is also welcome to show that we are not hiding anything,” Sueno said.
IAS chief Leo Angelo Leuteriohas assured the public that “in the conduct of this impartial and independent investigation, all PNP personnel found to have violated police operational procedures shall immediately face charges and a recommendation of outright dismissal from service.”
WITH JING VILLAMENTE