PRESIDENT Rodrigo Roa Duterte does not care whether he would be blamed, or criticized—or even rot in jail—as he took side with the policemen who launch a highly questionable “search operation” against Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. and Raul Yap that led to their death inside a sub-provincial jail.
Duterte told the media in a news conference in Davao City shortly after he arrived from his two-day visit to Malaysia that: “Let me state my case as the chief executive of the executive branch: I believe in the version of the police.”
The President’s statement only proved that he stood pat on what he previously telling the public that he would defend the members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in doing their job against those who are involved in illegal drug trade operations.
Duterte has declared war against drug lords, drug dealers, and their protectors who are employed in the three branches of government as soon as he assumed the presidency on June 30.
In the story of the Tapatnews.com published on its website on November 5 a story about the death of Espinosa and Yap insinuating that it could be a rubout or shootout due to facts that were highly questionable.
Espinoza, first-time mayor of Albuera Leyte, and Yap were both facing drug-related charges.
But Espinoza was also slapped with illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
In the public hearing of the Senate Committee on Justice on Thursday (November 10), Senators Panfilo Lacson, Franklin Drilon, and Richard Gordon have grilled some officials and members of the Philippine National Police – Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP – CIDG) of Region 8 headed by Supt. Marvin Marcos as to why one of the members of the CIDG has already alerted the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) of the same PNP Region at around 3:49 a.m. to proceed to the Leyte sub-provincial jail in Baybay City because Espinoza and Yap have died, when in fact based on police record the 19-man CIDG team have served the two “search warrants” on the two targets at around 4:30 a.m. on November 5.
Senator Manny Pacquiao, on the other hand, questioned why Marcos men have to get search warrants just to “search” Espinosa’s and Yap’s cells have illegal drugs.
Pacquiao averred that the warden of the sub-provincial jail could conduct the research operation and subsequently confiscate the illegal drugs and other prohibited items if indeed there were such things inside their cells.
Thus, no need to get search warrant from the court in Samar, he said.
Pacquiao and Sen. Vicente Sotto III, likewise, expressed cloud of doubt as to why Chief Insp. Leo Laraga applied search warrant in Samar, when in fact they could get one in Leyte.
Laraga told the lawmakers that they have a serious doubt if any of the judges in Leyte would issue the warrant because the Espinosa group was highly influential.
An article published at the Tapatnews.com on November 7 noted that police generals, provincial and local government officials, and officials of other government agencies, and even some media people were tagged as protectors of the Espinoza drug syndicate.
Samar Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Tarcelo Sabarre Jr. who issued the twin search warrants was reportedly being investigated by the Supreme Court.
Laraga admitted that he was the one shot to death Espinoza after the latter tried to shot his team.
Yap was shot after he also reportedly attempted to put up a fight against the policemen inside cell 7.
The Senate Justice Committee jointly headed by Lacson and Gordon has yet to finalize its committee report, but Lacson already made a conclusion on the first day of the hearing on Espinoza’s death.
The operation was “premeditated,” Lacson averred.
Online dictionaries showed that premeditated means planned, intentional, deliberate, cold-blooded, etc.
Duterte strongly told the senators to file charges against him in court if they have sufficient pieces of evidence to prove that what they have in mind were correct compared to the version of the CIDG – Region 8.
Duterte emphasized that he defended his men despite of supposed loopholes because according to him “Natural utos ko ‘yun eh.”
The President was referring about his previous marching orders to the PNP headed by director General Ronald dela Rosa to end the drug menace in the country.
“If anybody should go to prison, I should be the one. I assume full legal responsibility. If I rot in prison so be it,” the President noted.