Release of cops in rub-out case in Leyte, non-release of political prisoners, clear signs of impunity under Duterte

“We express our condemnation and extreme disappointment on the release on bail of police officers involved in the Espinosa case, as among the clear indications of prevailing impunity under Pres. Rodrigo Duterte. We remind the President that his job as commander-in-chief does not entail protecting State security forces from accountability on their crimes,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay on the release of the nineteen (19) accused policemen involved in the killing of Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa.

Former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Region 8 chief Superintendent Marvin Marcos, along with 18 others, were initially charged with murder after they launched an operation to serve a warrant against Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa last November 5, 2016; the operation led to the killing of Espinosa inside his jail in Baybay, Leyte. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the senate investigation ruled the case as a “rub-out.”

On June 2, 2017, the Department of Justice downgraded the charges against the 19 cops from murder to homicide, with the regional trial court allowing bail of P40,000 each. On June 16, all the accused were released on bail. Earlier last April, President Duterte said that he will not only pardon cops involved in the Espinosa slay case should they be convicted, but that he will also promote them.

“Duterte apparently remains true to his words when it entails ensuring the continued support of institutions who might be detrimental to his presidency. When it comes to promises he made for the welfare and benefit of the marginalized, however, he falls short, or at numerous occasions, makes a reversal. This is true for the issue of the release of political prisoners, especially those for humanitarian considerations,” said Palabay.

As of May 15, 2017, Karapatan puts the number of political prisoners in the country to 402 -- with 39 political detainees arrested under the Duterte administration. Palabay added that “there is a clear State policy of absolving culpable policemen in the war on drugs campaign and soldiers in their counter-insurgency war against the people, while maintaining the continued imprisonment of political prisoners jailed for trumped-up charges. It is deplorable to see scalawags being out on bail while those unjustly kept behind bars remain fighting for justice.”

“The Filipino people have been promised change, and we hold Duterte accountable that these changes be for the better. Instead, we now have martial law in Mindanao, aerial bombings and other community violations committed with impunity, the non-release of political prisoners, a militarized bureaucracy, a war on drugs that has claimed the lives of thousands, and an enabled and abusive State security forces with guaranteed protection. We urge Duterte to look closer, because for the most part, he has largely contributed to the worsening of the same oppressive and repressive system inherited from his predecessors,” concluded Palabay. 

 

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