THE Manila Times has not always supported the frequent moves within the Senate to conduct an investigation every time something untoward happens in our public life. Not every incident is worth the expense of time and resources that an inquiry entails. The determining factor should always be whether the public interest will be served.
Now, as we consider the clamor of the Senate minority for the chamber to investigate the decision by the Department of Justice to downgrade the charges against police officials and operatives involved in the killing of former Albuera, Leyte mayor Rolando Espinosa inside a jail cell in Baybay, Leyte, we find ourselves in the position of urging the Senate to investigate this matter.
This time and in this case, we believe the Senate should really conduct an inquiry. The grounds for inquiry are vital and compelling. Public interest requires that the Senate should get the facts and all the facts on why the DoJ decided to downgrade from murder to homicide the charges against the suspected killers of Espinosa
When the crime took place in Baybay, Leyte, on November 5, 2016, we were among those who were horrified that such a crime could happen so brazenly within the confines of a jail cell in this country, and with police operatives involved.
When the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) investigated the incident and subsequently concluded that the killing of Espinosa was a “rubout” perpetrated by police operatives of Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Eastern Visayas (CIDG-Region 8), we regarded it as a positive development in the case. It was even more positive when the NBI filed murder charges against Marcos and 18 others with the DoJ.
When the Senate last March also investigated the case, and concluded that the killing of Espinosa was premeditated and committed with abuse of authority on the part of the operatives of CIDG-Region 8, it was strong affirmation of the rule of law.
It was therefore entirely logical that the DoJ would subsequently file murder charges against Marvin Marcos and eight other co-accused for the killing of Espinosa.
What is not logical and incomprehensible is why the DOJ has suddenly reversed itself and moved to downgrade from murder to homicide the charges against the killers of Espinosa.
The Senate is entirely correct in expressing grave concern though that the scaled-down charges fuel fears of growing police impunity in the country and send the disturbing message that law enforcers are exempt from the rule of law and that abuses committed by policemen in the course of their official dutie, will be tolerated.
For indeed, there is no new evidence or compelling reason for the DoJ to reverse its original decision to file murder charges.
An inquiry will ferret out the reasons. The Senate should summon all those who are responsible. The public should hear whether Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd indeed had no hand in this big decision within his department.
The sooner the Senate investigates, the better.