PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will suffer his first big setback in the 16thCongress when the Senate, through the Senate committee on public order, conducts its inquiry into the reinstatement of Marvin Marcos as well as the downgrading of homicide charges against him for the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.
The republic’s senators, on both sides of the political fence, are not “cowards” and “puppets” as Sen. Antonio Trillanes has charged. They see the holes in the President’s incredible order. And they will demand through the inquiry that the mistake is rectified.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson has announced that the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, which he chairs, will launch the investigation during the second regular session of Congress, which opens on July 24.
Lacson earlier condemned President Duterte’s order to reinstate Marcos, one of the police officials accused of homicide in connection with the death of Espinosa.
Duterte, in reinstating Marcos, argued that Marcos was not physically present when his team from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Region 8 (CIDG-8) attempted to serve a search warrant on the detained Espinosa and ended up killing him.
Espinosa, 54, one of the local politicians that the President had linked to the illegal drug trade, was arrested in October last year for illegal possession of drugs and firearms. He had pleaded not to be taken to the Baybay, Leyte sub-provincial jail saying he feared for his life but his plea was ignored.
In the early morning of November 5, 2016, a CIDG-Region 8 team under the command of Marcos, went to the Baybay jail ostensibly to serve a search warrant on Espinosa, whom they suspected of keeping a gun and shabu inside his cell.
Espinosa and another inmate, Raul Yap, were killed in what the CIDG team claimed was a shootout.
Lacson in an earlier Senate inquiry on the case said Espinosa’s killing appeared to have been premeditated.
Marcos and his men were able to walk out of detention last month, after the criminal charges against them were downgraded from murder to homicide, a bailable case.
Marcos was not only spared from facing homicide charges; he was also assigned to head the CIDG-Socsargen.
The announcement of Marcos’ new post came after President Duterte declared that he wanted the police official returned to active service despite the homicide charges he was facing.
Other senators have joined Lacson in calling on the Senate to conduct an investigation of the reinstatement of Marcos on Duterte’s orders.
Sen. Richard Gordon declared that Philippine National Police chief, Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd were “cowards” for failing to advise the President against the reinstatement of the controversial cop.
“People around Duterte should pay him more respect by telling him the truth,” said Gordon.
Gordon said Aguirre was also to blame after the Department of Justice downgraded the criminal charges.
Down the line, senators, on both sides of political fence, have denounced the Marcos reinstatement and the downgrading of charges against himandthe18 other members of his team in the Espinosa killing.
Predictably, opposition senators—Francis Pangilinan, Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th, and Risa Hontiveros—have denounced the President’s order as “a clear case of obstruction of justice.”
No senator has come out to defend the presidential action.
When the Senate hearing is finally called, it seems certain that the President’s handling of the Marvin Marcos case will be undressed as totally wrongheaded and contrary to the interest of justice.
It will be interesting to see how the Solicitor General and other government lawyers and apologists will defend the President’s order in a public hearing.