MANILA – The eye roll. This is the emoji Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa associates with Police Superintendent Marvin Marcos, who was among those accused in the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa while detained at the Baybay Provincial Jail in November 2016.
Marcos, along with 23 other members of the PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Region 8, had been facing murder charges, but it was downgraded by the Department of Justice to homicide. Marcos was then released from prison after posting a P40,000-bail.
The downgrading of charges has sparked a furor in the Senate, where two committees – Justice committee, chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon, and Public Order, by Sen. Ping Lacson – had concluded, after an inquiry, that the Espinosa killing was premeditated murder. Six senators introduced a resolution on Tuesday denouncing the downgrading.
During an interview on Wednesday over News5’s digital program “Isa Laban Sa Lahat”, dela Rosa nevertheless said that this showed that the justice system was working in the Philippines, because Marcos was given the chance to post bail.
“Whether we like it or not, that is the process, the legal procedures, that are working,” dela Rosa said.
But he added that the DOJ must answer questions about how the incident would affect public perception of the police and the justice system.
In April, philstar.com reported that dela Rosa had approved the PNP’s Internal Affairs Service report on the killing of Espinosa, and that the PNP chief had supported the IAS’ recommendation to file cases against Marcos and the other members of the PNP-CIDG in Region 8.
Dela Rosa had also said that Marcos had been removed from his post after it was found that he was supposedly involved in illegal drugs. However, he was reinstated upon President Rodrigo Duterte’s orders.
Asked for dela Rosa’s reaction to the President’s pronouncements that he would give Marcos absolute pardon, the PNP chief replied, “I have my own reasons why I relieved him, but the President also has his own reasons why he wants to pardon him.”
Dela Rosa added that he would follow Duterte’s wishes as the commander-in-chief, and a lawyer, at that.
On the message the President’s intent to pardon such people sent to law enforcers who wished to do the right thing – investigating and arresting criminals – dela Rosa said, “I’ve been a professional law enforcer ever since… Hindi ako nawalan ng gana sa sinabi ng Presidente. Mas lalo akong ginanahan magtrabaho dahil for the first time in my whole life, ngayon lang ako nakakita ng Presidente na ganito magdepensa sa kanyang mga pulis (I didn’t lose heart because of what the President said. I got more motivated to work because for the first time in my whole life I saw a President who could defend his police like this).”
“Okay lang nasupalpal ako. Sino naman nasupalpal sa akin – Presidente (It’s okay that I was rebuffed, because who did it? The President),” dela Rosa said, using a basketball metaphor.
He added that Duterte had his reasons for his actions.
“Please, I am just the Chief PNP,” dela Rosa said.