MANILA, Philippines – How could a man accused of murder by no less than the government’s top investigating agency be easily freed on bail, resume work as regional chief of the primary investigation arm of the Philippine National Police (PNP), and if proven guilty by the court will still go scot-free as he is already assured of pardon?
The apparent privileged situation of Supt. Marvin Wynn Marcos made some senators angry and frustrated on Wednesday as they grilled PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa and officials of the Department of Justice during an inquiry on why the the former chief of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Region 8 accused of killing Albuera Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa and was linked to illegal drugs is now back in active service this time as chief of the CIDG in Region 12.
Espinosa was allegedly among the biggest drug lords in Eastern Visayas. His son, Kerwin Espinosa, also a suspected drug lord, testified in the Senate in November 2016 that he gave P8 million to Sen. Leila de Lima for her 2016 senatorial campaign through the lawmaker’s former driver and partner Ronnie Dayan. De Lima and Dayan are now detained on drug charges.
“Normal lang ba ‘yon na ibalik s’ya (Marcos) sa frontline kung saan p’wede n’yang gawin ulit ang krimen [Is it normal to return him to the frontline where he could again commit the crime]?” Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV asked Dela Rosa.
“Not so normal, your honor,” the PNP chief replied.
“Ba’t di na lang nagdecide na may kaso ito, ilagay muna sa opisina? Bakit ibabalik sa field kung saan pumatay sila [Why not decide to put him for the meantime at the office because he has a case? Why would he be returned to the field where they put someone to death]?” Aquino again quizzed Dela Rosa.
But what could the country’s top law enforcer do if it’s his boss, the highest leader of the land, who wants Marcos and his men to resume their work as law enforcers while the murder cases filed against them that were later downgraded to homicide are being heard by the court?
During the inquiry by the Senate Committee on Public Order and Illegal Drugs, Dela Rosa testified that it was President Rodrigo Duterte who wanted Marcos to go back to work.
“Your honor, pag nag-uusap kami ni Presidente [when the President and I talk], he is always telling me, ‘Pag okay na si Marcos, pagtrabahuhin na ‘yan’ [If Marcos is already okay, make him work],” the PNP chief said.
Duterte always supported Marcos
Duterte has been consistent in supporting Marcos, a relative of late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
After Dela Rosa sacked Marcos in mid-October last year as the latter was accused by Kerwin Espinosa of receiving drug money, the President ordered Marcos’ reinstated the same day that he was fired by the PNP chief.
The following month, on November 5 last year, Kerwin’s father and fellow inmate Raul Yap were killed inside their detention cells.
Based on the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)’s findings, Marcos and his men murdered Mayor Espinosa and Yap and that the crime was premeditated.
Marcos and 18 other police officers were jailed after the NBI filed murder and perjury cases against them.
But in June, Espinosa and Yap’s alleged killers were able to walk out of prison after the Baybay City Regional Trial Court-Branch 14 granted their plea to downgrade to homicide the murder charges filed against them.
In July, Duterte again took up the cudgels for Marcos, reiterating his promise that he would protect authorities killing people in the line of duty.
He said he had asked that Marcos and his men be reinstated.
“(S)inabi ko [I said] and in front of public, I will never, never allow a military man, a government man, a policeman na makukulong [to be jailed] for doing his duty and obeying my order,” Duterte said.
The President said he would be ready to grant pardon to Marcos and bring him back to the PNP if ever the court finds him guilty.
He said it would be unfair if criminals are accorded presumption of innocence and right of defense but not police officers like Marcos.
On Wednesday, during the inquiry at the Senate, Dela Rosa told lawmakers that he saw nothing irregular about his move to re-assign Marcos to CIDG-Region 12 because the PNP had not yet imposed its four-month suspension on Marcos and his men pending their motion for reconsideration.
“Kaya ngayon, naka-full duty status sila at p’wedeng ma-assign sa trabaho [That’w why they are now on full-duty status and can be assigned to jobs],” the PNP chief said.
Bato says Duterte wants Marcos back in service
Sen. Grace Poe got upset with Dela Rosa’s explanation. “Hindi s’ya na-dismiss, na-reinstate pa sa CIDG. Ano ba naman ‘yon? Wala na ba kayong ibang makuha [He wasn’t dismissed but was reinstated at the CIDG. What was that? Can’t you find another one for the job]?”
Dela Rosa replied that he was just being a good soldier to his boss.
“I am trying to follow orders. The President always intimated to me kung p’wede pagtrabahuhin na ‘yan, sumusweldo ‘yan [if he could already be ordered to work as he he was earning his salary],” he said.
Poe then asked why didn’t Dela Rosa advise the President to no longer re-assign or reinstate Marcos.
The PNP chief replied the according to the President, Marcos should be given another chance.
“One more chance. Pag gumagawa pa ito ng kalokohan [If he messes up again], I will take it against him personally,” Dela Rosa said.
‘Bad signal to the public’
Does Marcos’ reinstatement heighten or lower the morale of the police? Aquino asked Dela Rosa.
“Nakakataas po. Patunay na the President is a man of his words, na sabi n’ya ‘pag nagkaproblema sa trabaho, andito ako, ba-backup-an ko kayo,” the PNP chief replied.
[It heightens our morale. This is the proof that the President is a man of his words, that he said that if there would be a problem in your work, I’d be here, I would back you up.]
At the end of the Senate inquiry, Aquino released a statement and concluded that “favoritism” had something to do with the privileges being enjoyed by Marcos and his men.
“(It) sends a bad signal to the public that anyone can get away with any wrongdoing, including murder, as long as they have close ties with high officials of the country,” the senator said.
“What signal does this send? Kapag gumawa ka ng mali, as long as okay ka sa taas, ibabalik ka sa puwesto [If you do something wrong, as long as you’re okay with those up in power, you will be reinstated]. That’s the signal being sent to the public,” added Aquino.
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