For now, President Duterte is standing by the beleaguered cops of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Region 8 (CIDG-8) who were involved in the supposed jail raid that led to the death of Albuera town mayor Rolando Espinosa, Sr.
Duterte sounded firm regarding his support of the controversial policemen when he faced mediamen in Davao City moments after he arrived from his trips in Malaysia and Thailand.
“Let me state my case as the chief executive of the executive branch: I believe in the version of the police,” said Duterte “Walang dapat ikatakot ang pulis. Suportado ko sila.”
Several senators earlier expressed doubts on the accuracy of the CIDG-8 policemen’s version of the November 5 killing of Espinosa, pointing out inconsistencies in the testimonies of the cops are indications that the killing was premeditated.
“If they have evidence to prove otherwise, then a case should be filed against the police,” said Duterte.
He said it was “natural” for him to protect and support the police since he ordered the war on illegal drugs.
“If anybody should go to prison, I should be the one. Ako nag-utos. I assume full legal responsibility. If I rot in prison, so be it,” added Duterte.
Espinosa, who was linked to the illegal drug trade in Eastern Visayas, was shot dead inside his cell after a supposed shootout with policemen serving a search warrant. The Philippine National Police earlier said there was nothing wrong with the service of a search warrant on Espinosa inside the provincial jail early Saturday morning.
Meantime, Duterte assured the safe repatriation of the late Espinosa’s son and suspected drug lord Kerwin to the country after supposedly claiming he has “plenty to tell” to authorities.
Duterte said a team of National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police is set to travel to Abu Dhabi and fetch Espinosa.
Espinosa, an alleged drug operator in Eastern Visayas, was arrested by Abu Dhabi police last month after months of hiding.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre III earlier said Espinosa wanted to be placed under the witness protection program once he flies home from the United Arab Emirates. Espinosa, however, must first submit an affidavit before being qualified as a possible state witness, according to Aguirre. (GENALYN D. KABILING)