Duterte defending cops not grounds for ouster, says Panelo | Inquirer News
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Duterte defending cops not grounds for ouster, says Panelo

By: - Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
/ 03:59 PM December 08, 2016
sal panelo

Presidential chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo. VINCE F. NONATO/INQUIRER

President Rodrigo Duterte cannot be impeached by simply declaring that he will not allow police officials involved in the killing of former Albuera town mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. to go to jail, the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel has said.

Salvador Panelo was reacting to Sen. Leila de Lima, who said Duterte was “bordering (on) impeachability” for committing “betrayal of public trust.”

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“Of course not. Why should it be an impeachable offense? Is it even an offense?” Panelo told reporters in an ambush interview in Malacañang on Wednesday night.

In a speech on Wednesday, Duterte backed policemen involved in the Espinosa slay, saying he won’t allow them to be imprisoned despite the findings of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that Espinosa was murdered.

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“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 (DOJ) are both under [my authority],” he said.

Panelo backed Duterte’s statement, saying it is the court who would decide if the policemen were guilty or not.

“It doesn’t mean NBI is correct because the courts have to decide whether they are correct or not. The presumption of innocence applies to all criminals in this case. Moreover, the assumption of regularity has yet to be overcome,” he said.

He said “the duty of the President is to protect the members of the PNP who are enforcing the law (upon) his instructions.”

But Panelo assured the President would not interfere with the NBI investigation.

“The NBI results show that the NBI does not interfere with any government agency doing their work, e ‘di sana iba ang resulta,” he said.

Panelo said Duterte would respect the court’s decision but said the President was only applying presumption of innocence.

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“Of course, he’s a lawyer. A lawyer will always consider what the courts will say. Meanwhile, the constitutional presumption of innocence applies,” he said.

The legal counsel said Duterte was not protecting police forces linked to the illegal drugs trade.

“He’s precisely pursuing a drive against illegal drug activities; that includes policemen in illegal drug activities.  What he is doing is protecting those following his instructions,” he said. JE/rga

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TAGS: COPS, impeach, Leila de Lima, Police, Rodrigo Duterte, Rolando Espinosa, Salvador Panelo
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