by Mario Casayuran and Hannah Torregoza
The Senate has made its position clear: The killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. in his jail cell last November was a plain case of murder, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said yesterday.
“However, I know that the prosecution of crimes is the responsibility of the Executive branch,” Pimentel, a bar topnotcher, added.
Most of the senators are up in arms over the decision of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to charge Police Superintendent Marvin Marcos and 18 of his men with homicide, not murder.
“If the Executive branch, through the DOJ, characterized the incident as homicide, and not murder, then it is expected to be able to defend such a decision in any forum, including the Senate in a hearing that may be called for that purpose and/or during the upcoming deliberations on the department’s (proposed 2018) budget,” Pimentel said.
“In the continuing investigation and public discussion of this matter, we cannot avoid discussing the Philippine National Police’s (PNP’s) policies on discipline, internal affairs, the treatment of officers facing serious criminal cases and human rights,’’ Pimentel said.
The Senate chief stressed that the PNP should, likewise, be prepared to discuss all of these issues, especially during the budget deliberations where the PNP’s failure to solve numerous killings all over the country would surely be raised.
Pimentel stressed the Espinosa killing and all matters related to it are matters imbued with public interest. ‘’Hence, the Senate’s exercise of its oversight powers over our justice system and law enforcement is called for,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Senator Panfilo Lacson urged the National Police Commission (Napolcom) to conduct a thorough review of the administrative case against the 19 cops involved in the Espinosa-Yap twin slay as there could be “deeper implications on police discipline and efficiency” on the integrity of the PNP.
“Imagine if police scalawags were given field assignments invoking the Marcos case as precedent, and deployed all over, then we have a much bigger peace and order problem,” Lacson, a former PNP Chief noted.
Lacson’s committee on public order and dangerous drugs which held an inquiry into the Espinosa slay concluded that Espinosa’s death was “premeditated.” The downgrading of the charges by the DOJ from murder to homicide stirred a hornets nets but calling Marcos and 18 of his men back to active duty shocked Lacson to let out an expletive.
However, contrary to the statement of Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella that Supt. Marcos had already “served his suspension and is eligible to be back on duty” in justifying the order of President Duterte to call back the Espinosa 19 to duty, PNP Chief Ronald dela Rosa said Marcos has not yet served his four-month suspension when he reverted to active duty status.
This is because Marcos, according to Dela Rosa appealed his suspension recommended by the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) which Dela Rosa approved.
“It (suspension) is not yet implemented pending the resolution of the Motion for Reconsideration. In the meantime, they are on a duty status. So he’s back at full duty status that’s why he can be assigned anywhere,” said dela Rosa.
Marcos has been assigned as officer-in-charge of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Region 12.
The appeal of Marcos is currently pending before the Directorate for Personnel Records and Management (DPRM) and is expected to be resolved this week.
“Once we resolve the MR, granting that we deny his MR, we will implement the decision of the IAS. So if he is suspended, he cannot hold office,” he added. (With a report from Aaron B. Recuenco)