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Duterte admits ordering Marcos returned to CIDG8 as part of ‘investigative job’

CIDG8 chief Superintendent Marvin Marcos (left) and Chief Inspector Leo Laraga at the Senate inquiry into the killing of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. (file)
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MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE -7:13 a.m.) President Rodrigo Duterte admitted it was he who ordered Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa to reinstate Superintendent Marvin Marcos, the sacked head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Region 8, claiming he was doing an “investigative job” on the officer.

Marcos' unit was responsible for killing Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., who was shot dead inside his cell at the Baybay City sub-provincial jail in what CIDG-8 claims was a shootout as its men tried to serve a search warrant. Another inmate also died in supposedly similar circumstances in a separate cell.

However, subsequent accounts by jail officers and other inmates tended to indicate the two may have been executed. When Espinosa's son Kerwin, who was arrested in Abu Dhabi, returned to the country, he named Marcos as one of the police officers who alleged received millions of pesos from him. 

Duterte made the admission after Senator Leila de Lima, citing information from a “source,” claimed his special assistant, Christopher “Bong” Go, was the “kumpare” who Dela Rosa said called and asked that Marcos, who was sacked for alleged involvement in illegal drugs, be reinstated for “humanitarian reasons.”

The kumpare (bosom buddy) explanation was the second the PNP chief made about Marcos’ reinstatement. Originally, he had cited “orders” from a “higher official.”

Asked by CNN in an exclusve interview about this, Duterte said: "Ganito ’yan, si Bong inoderan ko, call. By the time pinasa niya, ang sumagot si Dela Rosa. Sabi ko, do not remove the guy because kasali ‘yan sa … (It's like this. I asked Bong to call. By the time he passed the phone to me, Dela Rosa had answered. I told him do not remove the guy because he is included) I am doing an investigative job."

"Natapos na ‘yun, si Dolina was cleared. Marcos, positive. Kasi I was keeping track of his movements. Alisin mo ako doon, mawala bigla angMawala lahat. Hindi ko masundan (The investigation is over, [Chief Superintendent Asher] Dolina was cleared). Marcos, positive. Because I was keeping track of his movements. If you take me out of there, I wouldn’t be able to track it)," he added.

Dolina, Eastern Visayas police director in 2015, had also been named by confessed drug distributor Kerwin Espinosa as among the police officers he allegedly paid off to turn a blind eye to his trade.

Despite saying Marcos will need to face any charges against him, Duterte said he preferred to let the police officer “maintain the right to be heard.”

Meanwhile, De Lima, who Dela Rosa had dared to reveal the source who told her about Go in exchange for revealing who actually phoned him, refused the PNP chief's challenge.

Earlier, Go denied De Lima's claim in a text message to Palace reporters, calling it "pure hearsay and unsubstantiated."

"I cannot recall having met former CIDG Region 8 Head Supt Marcos and I don't know him personally. I did not ask General Bato to reinstate him. I also do not interfere with the affairs and functions of the PNP," he said. 

"I will not and will never disclose my source. That info was given to me in confidence. I cannot breach the confidence accorded me by my source,” De Lima said about Dela Rosa's dare. 

“Instead, I dare Gen. Bato to disclose to us who is that personality/official "higher" than him, if it's not Bong Go, who gave the order to reinstate Marcos,” De Lima said.

De Lima said that the duty to disclose belongs to Dela Rosa, and not her “since he was the one who revealed the giving of the order.”

Cayetano weighs in

Meanwhile, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano weighed on the issue by lambasting De Lima for maliciously accusing Secretary Go of allegedly asking Dela Rosa to reinstate Marcos and his group to the CIDG Region 8. 

Cayetano said De Lima should instead face allegations that she herself is involved in the illegal drug trade.

"Senator De Lima seems to be resorting to squid tactics as a strategy to get the attention away from the accusations in which she herself is involved," Cayetano said.

"Instead of facing allegations of her involvement in the illegal drug trade, Sen. De Lima found it more fitting to file a case against the President of the country. Now, she is targeting Special Assistant to the President Sec. Bong Go with baseless accusations," he added.

Cayetano hit De Lima for targeting the administration and making assumptions based only on pure hearsay. He called on the senator to refrain from deflecting the real issue and instead face allegations thrown against her head on. 

"Secretary Go is a professional. He doesn't insert his own agenda in his professional duties. He is a soldier who follows his commander-in-chief's directives. He should not be dragged in controversy especially when there is no clear proof," Cayetano said.

"These new intrigues are merely part of Senator De Lima's and her shadowy allies' plan to replace the President with their own," Cayetano further claimed.

Cayetano meanwhile expressed his unrelenting support for the Duterte administration's ongoing campaign against illegal drugs, saying he would continue to assist the President in cleansing the government of rogue officials trying to get in the way of their fight for more genuine reforms and real change.

"The President has started the war against illegal drugs, and is committed to clean our government of narco-politicians and other drug protectors. But many people are still trying to cover the truth through different cloaks of disguise. We will not allow them to win," Cayetano said.