Espinosa slay case: Escudero deplores admin’s ‘wasted opportunity’
President Duterte and his administration could have taken advantage of the case of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. to prove that they do not give special treatment to government forces that kill drug personalities arbitrarily, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero said on Tuesday.
Escudero is one of the several senators who denounced the Department of Justice (DOJ) for downgrading the charges against Supt. Marvin Marcos and his men who are behind the November 2016 killing of Espinosa inside a city jail in Baybay, Leyte from murder to homicide.
“It’s a wasted opportunity for the entire administration. It could have been an example of the Duterte administration not taking these kinds of things sitting down,” Escudero said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel’s morning show “Headstart.”
Escudero said the Duterte administration missed the “golden opportunity” to prove critics of the drug war, including the international community, that it would also punish policemen who engage in extrajudicial killings.
“A policeman using his power, his influence, his gun to kill a drug suspect inside a jail, that clearly is unacceptable. And it would be a golden opportunity to show to the international community as well that while there are EJKs (extrajudicial killings), it’s not the government who’s doing that and whenever an agent of government does it, we will be as hard on him as we are on drug pusher and drug traffickers,” he said.
Escudero said he supports the reopening of the probe on the Espinosa killing because Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II “needs to explain a lot of things.”
“I just want him to explain where he’s coming from because quite frankly I don’t understand where he’s coming from. Perhaps the public would want to hear his side too,” he said.
The senator also noted the inconsistencies in the statements of Aguirre.
During the past inquiries on the Espinosa case, Aguirre said he believed that the mayor’s killing was premeditated. Both the Senate and the National Bureau of Investigation concluded that the operation that killed Espinosa and his fellow inmate Raul Yap was a rubout.
A few months after, the DOJ issued a resolution reducing the charges against Marcos from murder to homicide.
Either Aguirre found the evidence against Marcos and his men weak or someone ordered him to downgrade the case, Escudero said.
“He might have been telling the truth at that time but upon seeing the evidence or upon being ordered through. I don’t know what,” he said.
But the senator said Aguirre’s flip-flopping was not enough to cite him for contempt.
“Suddenly he changed his mind and decided to downgrade the charges, that’s not punishable by contempt. But does he look bad? Definitely, Karen,” he said./rga/ac
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