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‘Hello, Kumpare’

If former President Gloria Arroyo had ‘Hello,Garci’, President Duterte, apparently, has his own version – ‘Hello, Kumpare’.

If you recall, Arroyo made a call to Virgilio Garcillano also known as “Garci,” a former official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) who was allegedly involved in her supposed electoral fraud, and this was called the “Hello, Garci” scandal.

Just recently, Director-General Ronald dela Rosa, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, announced that his “kumpare” phoned him and requested the reinstatement of Superintendent Marvin Marcos. The PNP chief would not reveal the identity of the caller.

He earlier sacked Marcos after the arrest in Abu Dhabi in mid-October of alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, son of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.

Dela Rosa admitted that he gave in to the request despite receiving an earlier information that Marcos was receiving payola money from Kerwin’s drug operations.

Senator Leila de Lima said it was an open secret among PNP officials that President Duterte’s special assistant, Bong Go, was Dela Rosa’s mystery caller.

Last week, President Duterte admitted that he directed Bong Go to call Dela Rosa and order him to reinstate Marcos because he was “doing an investigative job”.

Weeks after his reinstatement, Marcos, chief of the CIDG Region 8, headed the operation that would lead to the death of the elder Espinosa inside a jail in Leyte. For this, Marcos was sacked again from his post along with 17 other policemen, and placed under restrictive custody in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Although the PNP clarified that Marcos and his men were still under restrictive custody, they were allowed to leave Camp Crame and return to Leyte supposedly to get some information to support their counter-affidavit.

As Senator Panfilo Lacson pointed out, the mere sight of Marcos and his men would make the witnesses in Leyte cower in terror, including the inmates, jail guards and relatives of Kerwin.

Duterte may have taken up the cudgels for his special assistant, assuming that it was really Bong Go who requested that Marcos be reinstated. Some people believe Duterte may have done so to put an end to the controversy. As they say, “The buck stops here.”

But a negative backlash to this could be the impression that Marcos is an untouchable police official who could do whatever he wants because he has the backing of someone powerful.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at http://www.tempo.com.ph/category/opinion/firing-line/ (Robert B. Roque, Jr.)