The word war between officials of two law enforcement bodies over the handling—or mishandling—of high-profile suspects has reached the ears of President Aquino.
The President summoned Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas to Malacañang for a meeting Thursday ostensibly to talk things over away from the spotlight.
De Lima and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Alfredo Caguioa had a 2:30 p.m. appointment with the President, according to Malacañang Appointments’ Office.
At a briefing, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda confirmed that De Lima was scheduled to see Roxas, who supervises the Philippine National Police, at the Palace.
“So how can it be messier (when) the two department heads will be talking to each other? So let’s wait for the (result of the) discussion between Secretary Mar and Secretary Leila,” Lacierda said.
He said this in the course of commenting on the word war between De Lima and a ranking PNP official over the killings of two robbery gang leaders in Laguna province last week, and the recapture of a drug trafficker and his wife in San Juan City on July 13.
As justice secretary, De Lima is the immediate superior of the National Bureau of Investigation, which is looking into the possible culpability of Senior Supt. Jose Mario Espino, the sacked chief of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group’s Anti-Organized Crime Division, and 19 CIDG officers.
Expecting spot promotion
The CIDG team has been accused by two NBI witnesses of stealing P15 million to P20 million and 80 kilos of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) from the house of recaptured drug trafficker Li Lan Yan, alias Jackson Dy.
Espino, the leader of the team that raided Dy’s apartment in San Juan, said he and his agents would bring perjury charges against the two witnesses.
He called a news conference on Wednesday and lashed out at De Lima for taking the witnesses’ statements as “gospel truth” and for “prejudging” them.
“We were expecting a spot promotion. Instead, we were placed under a spot investigation,” Espino said. “Worse, our enemies now are our fellow government officials.”
Espino maintained that the CIDG officers did not find drugs and money from Dy’s apartment, saying the two witnesses were “lying.”
A peeved De Lima turned the tables on the CIDG raiding team, saying she would get back at them for revealing the identities of two witnesses who were under government protection.
The justice secretary also blew her top last week when she learned about the killings of Ozamiz robbery gang leaders Ricky Cadavero and Wilfredo Panogalinga Jr. in San Pedro town, Laguna province, on July 15, while in police custody.
On Tuesday, PNP Director General Alan Purisima acknowledged that the killings of the two men by their police escorts were a “rubout” and approved the administrative charges against the 14 policemen involved.
De Lima welcomed Purisima’s decision, but also insisted that the arrest on July 12 of Cadavero and the arrest of Dy the following day were related, contrary to claims by the CIDG.
Lacierda said there was no need for a “gag order,” when asked if the President would not be asking De Lima and Espino to stop quarreling in public.
“You know, there is an investigation right now … Secretary Leila de Lima has stated (Wednesday) what’s her position,” said Lacierda, adding:
“We are not privy to what’s going on there. There’s an investigation going on, so let’s wait for the investigation if it’s going to turn out one way or the other.”