MANILA, Philippines – Within 24 hours, former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Region 8 chief Superintendent Marvin Marcos was sacked from his post, only to be reinstated by the orders of no less than President Rodrigo Duterte.
The younger Espinosa had apparently told Philippine police that Marcos was a recipient of drug money in exchange for "protection." It was this information that prompted Dela Rosa to order Marcos' relief. The same day, however, Duterte through longtime aide Bong Go, called Dela Rosa and instructed him to reinstate Marcos.
Dela Rosa complied.
Weeks later, Mayor Espinosa was killed inside his jail cell because he supposedly shot at police trying to serve a search warrant against him on November 5. Marcos approved that operation at the Leyte sub-provincial jail in Baybay City, Leyte, and was even present. (READ: Duterte on Espinosa slay: I believe the police's story)
Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV was quizzing Dela Rosa about the circumstances surrounding Marcos' relief and subsequent reinstatement.
"When was he returned?" asked Aquino.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the committee probing the mayor's death, quipped: "Ako na, Ronald (I'll answer for you, Ronald)."
Dela Rosa he felt "okay" because it was the President himself who made the request.
The reasons behind Marcos' reinstatement, however, vary. Dela Rosa had earlier said he considered the family of Marcos and other CIDG 8 personnel in the possible relief. Duterte, meanwhile, said he stopped Marcos' relief because the police official remains under investigation.
"Hindi po karaniwang nangyayari. To be frank, nagtaka ako kung bakit (That doesn't usually happen. To be frank, I was wondering myself)," Dela Rosa would later admit.
"But who am I to question the wisdom of the President?" he added.
Marcos, quizzed by senators, insisted that he had no powerful backers in Camp Crame. But Lacson, who was once PNP chief himself, did not seem to buy that claim, pointing out that someone had to inform Duterte within the same day of Marcos' relief.
Despite insisting previously that he has no regrets in reinstating Marcos, Dela Rosa believes Mayor Espinosa's life would have been spared had Marcos not been reinstated.
While Marcos and his men insist theirs was a legitimate operation, senators have tagged the mayor's killing as "premeditated." Other cops involved in the operation, including two senior officials, also allegedly received drug money from Kerwin Espinosa.
The controversy over Marcos – and his relief and reinstatement – arose after Dela Rosa admitted a "high-ranking official" intervened. The PNP chief later said it was a "kumpare (friend)" who called him up. Senator Leila de Lima, one of the staunchest critics of the Duterte administration, alleged it was Go who called Dela Rosa, a claim Go denied.
Duterte eventually admitted that he himself ordered that Marcos be returned to his post. – Rappler.com