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Contrasting findings need to be resolved

WE have two versions of the shooting that killed Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. of Albuera, Leyte, at the Leyte sub-provincial jail in Baybay City on November 5.

It was a shootout when agents of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police served a search warrant on him, according to the Eastern Visayas regional director of the Philippine National Police (PNP) the day after the incident.

It was a rubout, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said last Tuesday over a month after the incident, citing evidence and the results of its forensic examinations.

The Leyte jail incident is one part of the big picture of the government’s anti-drug campaign. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have been conducting hearings on various aspects of the campaign, focusing on the alleged involvement of high officials, including a senator who, it is claimed, received money from the drug lords.

The campaign has had reverberations around the world, with President Duterte exchanging critical remarks with United States President Barack Obama and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, but winning plaudits from US President-elect Donald Trump.

With the campaign exposing the enormity of the problem and thousands of drug addicts surrendering to the authorities, drug treatment and rehabilitation centers have now been set up in the country, including a 10,000-bed mega center in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija, donated by a Chinese businessman. Soon, the new administration will begin turning its attention to other big problems of the nation, including corruption.

While the Leyte jail incident is but one in the many cases related to the anti-drug campaign, it stands out as a law enforcement issue that will pose great difficulties to the government. For we have two major law-enforcement agencies under the Executive Department coming up with two glaringly different findings. The Judiciary is bound to get involved in the course of the proceedings, as will the Legislative Department which may conduct inquiries and enact new laws.

President Duterte himself has said: Let the NBI file charges. He still believes, he said, the police claim that Espinosa died in a shootout.

We will have to await further investigation that will resolve the problem of contrasting findings. We hope the wait will not be too long.