The Department of Justice (DOJ) should be ready to defend its handling of cases against the cops behind the killing of Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. of Albuera, Leyte, Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel II said on Monday.
At the same time, the Philippine National Police (PNP) leadership should also be prepared to discuss the PNP’s policies on discipline and the treatment of officers facing serious criminal cases.
This developed after Supt. Marvin Marcos, the head of the police team who raided the cell of Espinosa, was reinstated to service on the orders of President Rodrigo Duterte. The DOJ also downgraded the charges against Marcos and 18 other cops from murder to homicide.
“The Senate has made its position clear in the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.,” Pimentel said in a statement. “From our point of view, MURDER was committed. However, I also know that the prosecution of crimes is the responsibility of the Executive Branch.”
“If the Executive Branch through the Department of Justice 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 budget. ‘Defend your position in Plaza Miranda,’ ika nga,” Pimentel said.
“In the continuing investigation and public discussion of this matter, we cannot avoid discussing the Philippine National Police’s policies on discipline, internal affairs, the treatment of officers facing serious criminal cases, and human rights,” he added. “The PNP should likewise be prepared to discuss all of these issues especially during the budget deliberations where the PNP’s failure to solve the numerous killings all over the country will surely also be raised.”
A Senate committee concluded that the killing of Espinosa was premeditated. This was consistent with the report of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which also found that the search operation against Espinosa was a rubout.
“The killing of Mayor Espinosa Sr., and all matters related to it, are matters imbued with public interest,” Pimentel said. “Hence the Senate’s exercise of its oversight powers over our justice system and law enforcement is called for.” /atm
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