REGARDLESS of the executive order on the freedom of information, this administration has been far from transparent or forthcoming about what happens behind the scenes.
A perfect example of this was the cloak-and-dagger way by which Supt. Marvin Marcos, chief of the Region 8 Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, was reinstated the same day he was relieved by Philippine National Police chief Dir. Gen. Ronald dela Rosa.
Marcos was no ordinary cop. Only recently, he led a dawn raid on a provincial jail that killed Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa, who, he would have us believe, had tried to shoot at him and 17 other members of the raiding team from inside his cramped jail cell.
Marcos has also been identified by the biggest drug lord in Eastern Visayas, Kerwin Espinosa, as one of many police officials who took payoffs in return for protecting their illegal operations.
Dela Rosa seemed caught off guard when the press asked him why Marcos was reinstated the same day he was relieved. His only answer was that he received a call from “a higher-up”—a person he described as his “kumpare.”
President Duterte eventually admitted that it was he who ordered Marcos reinstated, so as not to disrupt an ongoing investigation of the officer.
The explanation beggars belief.
What kind of investigation can anyone conduct, now that the President himself has let the cat out of the bag?
Perhaps realizing how silly this explanation was, the President later took a more defiant tone.
“I do not have to explain to you, the whole republic and the critics, why I made the order,” he said.
He said the order was within his discretion, suggesting that he knew about—or ordered—the raid that killed Espinosa in his jail cell, an act that senators have described as a summary execution.
“I promised the police and the military: Do your duty, go out and find these criminals, arrest them if possible but if they offer a violent resistance and you think that your life is in danger, kill them,” he said.
He said he believed the police when they said Espinosa resisted arrest—in effect justifying their actions during the raid.
Duterte then told his critics to go to the streets and demonstrate if they wanted.
“If you want to do something about it, fine,” he said. “You want to demonstrate? I give you the streets 365 days a year 30 days in a month 7 days, including Sundays, you can demonstrate. Just do not do violent things,” he said.
But the violence has already been done—to the Albuera mayor and to those of us who are appalled by the Palace double standard that lets erring policemen go scot-free while killing all other drug suspects.