SENATOR Panfilo Lacson on Sunday confirmed there was demoralization in the Philippine National Police (PNP) because of the President’s order to reinstate an Eastern Visayas police official linked to drugs, although he admitted no law was violated by the move.
Lacson, a former PNP chief, said some PNP officials admitted to him that many were dismayed by the reinstatement of Supt. Marvin Marcos, head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Region 8, in October.
Marcos was relieved after being tagged by drug kingpin Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr. as a “drug protector” in the region.
But he was allowed to go back to work and later led a CIDG raiding team that killed Espinosa’s father, Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. at the Baybay sub-provincial jail last November 5.
PNP Chief Ronald de la Rosa said a higher official, a “kumpare,” (friend) ordered the reinstatement, and said there should be no issue since Marcos and the CIDG men were placed in restrictive custody in Manila following the November 5 incident.
De la Rosa did not name the official, but Sen. Leila de Lima, a leading critic of the government’s anti-drug war, alleged it was Christopher “Bong,” Go, President Rodrigo Duterte’s aide.
Duterte admitted on Friday it was him who gave the instruction, claiming he was tracking Marcos’ movements.
Lacson said the PNP chief should have stood his ground.
“I’m taking to task [de la Rosa], because he should have explained or defended to the President the reason for the relief order rather than agreeing to it (Marcos’ reinstatement) immediately,” Lacson said a radio interview.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd clarified that the reinstatement of Marcos was made before the raid in the Baybay, Leyte jail that killed Mayor Espinosa, and not recently.
“Marcos was relieved after the July reshuffle, reinstated then, but not after the Espinosa incidents,” Sotto said.
Lacson admitted he was dismayed with de la Rosa over the controversy surrounding Marcos.
The senator said he was aware of the reinstatement of Marcos and his group in October but decided not to make an issue out of it, because a trusted police official of de la Rosa went to his office and assured him the PNP chief would not allow the CIDG men to be reinstated again.
De la Rosa’s emissary, Lacson said, even claimed the PNP chief was ready to be relieved from his post if given a similar order.
“I have no reason to doubt the official who gave me the information. Natutuwa sila kasi noong unang na-reinstate maraming demoralization, inamin nila sa akin `yan, parang untouchable itong grupo ni Marcos (They are happy because after the first reinstatement they admitted to me that there was demoralization, because Marcos’ group seemed to be untouchable,” Lacson said.
It was Chief Supt. Leo Angelo Leuterio, deputy inspector general of the PNP Internal Affairs Service (IAS), who admitted that the restrictive custody order against Marcos and company was temporary lifted “to give them a chance to go back to Region 8 to get the papers they need for their counter-affidavits.”
Lacson insisted there was no need to lift the restrictive custody since the police officers could ask people in Leyte to send the documents to Manila.
While the PNP-IAS has clarified that the lifting of restrictive custody was only temporary, Lacson noted there was no provision in the law about a temporary lifting.
“It is a good thing that these issues have been discovered so that we can come up with measures the would address these loopholes,” he said.
Lacson said he would raise the matter during the resumption of the inquiry of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs on the killing of Mayor Espinosa today.
The committee will present resource persons who will corroborate the testimony of Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr. that he met Sen. Leila de Lima in Baguio City sometime in November 2015.
The younger Espinosa and Ronnie Dayan, a former driver-bodyguard and lover of de Lima will also face each other today.
De Lima is accused of getting money from drug lords at the New Bilibid Prison when she was Justice secretary, with Dayan as her bagman.
Lacson, chairman of the committee, said the main focus of the hearing would be to resolve the inconsistencies of Espinosa and Dayan’s testimonies that implicated de Lima.
Espinosa claimed he gave money to de Lima in Baguio in 2015, but Dayan told a House inquiry last month the payoff happened in 2014.
Lacson said Baguio police did some research and found out that Espinosa was in Baguio City on November 19, 2015 and stayed at Alexandra Hotel.
A cousin of Espinosa has executed an affidavit claiming to have witnessed the meeting with de Lima at Burnham Park, he said.
“So it would be his (Dayan’s) word against Kerwin’s word this time because there are documents and testimonies that would prove that they were there in 2015 not 2014,” Lacson said.
Lawmakers also want to know how Espinosa established contact with de Lima because Dayan denied the former’s claim that it was Albuera police head Chief Insp. Jovie Espinido who introduced Dayan to Espinosa.
Dayan during the House inquiry denied knowing Espenido and insisted it was de Lima who asked him to contact Espinosa.
“Based on the pattern of Dayan’s testimony, it looks like he is trying to save himself, by claiming that he did not know Kerwin as a drug lord,” Lacson said.