Palace slams insinuations Duterte OK’d Espinosa slay
MANILA — Malacañang rejected on Thursday insinuations that President Duterte orchestrated the murders of drug suspects in the country after he publicly declared his support for the policemen who shot dead detained Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.
In a press briefing, Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Marie Banaag categorically denied that the President had ordered the killing of Espinosa, the father of confessed drug lord Roland “Kerwin” Espinosa.
“That’s not fair. That’s not true,” Banaag replied when asked about allegations linking the President to Espinosa’s death.
Told that the President uttered the words “because it was my order,” she explained that the Chief Executive was merely referring to his directive to intensify the government’s fight against illegal drugs.
“What he said was he ordered the war on illegal drugs. He did not say, ‘It’s my order to kill (Espinosa).’ What the President said was he was the one who declared the war against drugs,” she explained
She also took exception to allegations that Mr. Duterte’s defense of Espinosa’s killers was tantamount to influencing the outcome of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) probe into Espinosa’s killing, which the NBI had already concluded as a “rubout.”
“The support that the President stated (for) the police officers may come in the form of legal assistance,” she said. “The Chief Executive has been very consistent in saying that he takes full responsibility in the anti-drug war, including the acts of his men in line with the performance of their duties.”
Addressing a gathering of urban poor groups in Mandaluyong City on Wednesday, the President defended Supt. Marvin Marcos, the sacked chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Eastern Visayas, and his subordinates who carried out the Nov. 5 raid in Espinosa’s detention cell at the Leyte sub-provincial jail in Baybay City.
He said he believed the policemen’s version of a shootout despite the witnesses’ testimonies and forensic evidence, which the NBI gathered belying their claims that the mayor was killed in a firefight.
Mr. Duterte’s issued the statement a day after the NBI filed a case of double murder against Marcos and his men for the death of Espinosa and fellow inmate Raul Yap.
“I will not allow these guys to go to prison. I don’t care if the NBI says it’s murder. Anyway, the NBI and the Department of Justice are both under [my authority],” the President said. SFM/rga
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