DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/02 December) – Not Bong, but Digong.
The “kumpadre” who ordered Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald dela Rosa to reinstate Supt. Marvin Marcos was not Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, as alleged by Senator Leila de Lima, but President Rodrigo Duterte himself.
Duterte admitted this to CNN Philippines’ reporter Ina Andolong Friday night in a telephone interview, the transcript published on its website.
He said he asked Go to call dela Rosa but the order for the reinstatement of Marcos, chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Region 8 (Eastern Visayas) came from him.
Marcos led the dawn operations at the Baybay City jail that led to the killing of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa and another inmate on November 5. The police claimed it was a shootout, but subsequent investigations showed it may have been a rubout and even the Senate committee investigating illegal drugs and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre who attended it noted the killing appeared to have been “premeditated.”
Before November 5, however, Dela Rosa ordered the relief of Marcos following reports he was involved in the illegal drugs trade in the region and was among the protectors of the Espinosa, he told the ANC’s Headstart on November 29. He said he reinstated Marcos when he got a call from “mas mataas sa akin” (higher than me) to do so.
Espinosa’s son Kerwin, a suspected druglord, testified before a Senate Committee probe the other week that Marcos was among his protectors.
Andolong asked Duterte: “Did you order the reinstatement of Marcos?”
Duterte replied: “Ganito yan, si Bong inorderan ko, call. By the time pinasa niya, ang sumagot si dela Rosa. Sabi ko, (It’s like this. I ordered Bong to call. By the time he passed the phone to me, dela Rosa was on the line. I said) do not remove the guy (Marcos) because kasali yan sa… (he’s included in the …) 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 ang… Mawala lahat. Hindi ko masundan.( If you remove him, we’ll lose the.. we’ll lose it all. I can’t keep track of him).
Chief Supt. Asher Dolina, police director for Eastern Visayas in 2015 was also tagged by Espinosa as a protector.
Asked what he will do given that Marcos had been found to be “positive,” Duterte told CNN Philippines: “He has to face the charges. But ngayon, pwede nang… (Now, it can be… ). Let him maintain the right to be heard.”
Marcos and 17 other police officers were placed under restrictive custody at the end of the Nov. 23 Senate hearing but the PNP’s Internal Affairs Service temporarily lifted the order on December 2 to give them a chance to go back to Region 8 to get documents for their counter affidavits.
“Hearsay and unsubstantiated”
Go had issued a statement that De Lima’s allegations were “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.
At the closing ceremony of the Motorcycle Riding Course here Friday, Duterte told his audience not to believe that Go called dela Rosa.
“Huwag kayong maniwala na si Bong ang tumawag ‘yung para kay ano.” (Do not believe that Bong called for (the reinstatement of Marcos), Duterte said.
While not categorically saying he made the call, Duterte gave hints he did.
“Doon ko nalaman, I’d like to make it public. Kaya ko sabi ko, as it is kayo diyan. Doon ko nalaman si Dolina malinis. Si Marcos may tama, kaya huwag mong galawin kasi gusto kong tingnan..” (So I said, as is. That’s when I found out Dolina was clean. Marcos was not, so don’t touch him because I want to see…).
“Kaya kung biglain mo, napuputol ‘yung guma-– nagbi-build up ng kaso” (If the relief from post is sudden, it will cut off .. the build up of the case).
“So hindi totoo ‘yung si Bong Go ang tumawag. May kumausap kay ano… “ (So it is not true Bong Go called. Somebody called ….) apparently referring to dela Rosa.
“Sino ba pasanginlan natin? (Who do we blame?) We have to blame somebody,” he said, and in jest pointed to a policeman who is now an undersecretary.
Duterte said it is dela Rosa’s prerogative to order a reinstatement. “Prerogative ni Bato ‘yan eh. Maski na sabihin niya kriminal ‘yan. (Even if he says he is a criminal), let the law take its own (course). Huwag tanggalin na… nag-pro-programa pa kami dito kung totoo ba o hindi” (Do not remove yet.. We’re still monitoring if it’s true or not).
Duterte also noted that the relief would lead to low morale among the police. “Yung ibang pulis hindi man nila nalaman na we’re doing the investigative work, tapos hindi mo ma-ano, so you do that, it will create a ripple in the entire country.”
“Hindi ko masabi sa inyo relax lang kayo kasi ganito (I cannot tell you just relax because) we were really building the case. Dolina, malinis ‘yan” (Dolina’s clean).
“I believe in the version of the police”
When Duterte was asked about the killing as he was leaving for Thailand and Malaysia on November 9, he said: “I will obey what the police will tell me because kasama kami sa gobyerno (we’re part of government). I will not go there to find fault with the police. I did not even agree that they should be transferred, at least not now. Kasi pagka ganon wala ng pulis magtrabaho (Because if that’s the case, the police will no longer work).
Upon arrival from Kuala Lumpur on November 11, Duterte said: “I believe in the version of the police. (If) they have evidence to prove otherwise, then a case should be filed against the police.”
“But as I have said before, right at the start, very early on sa administration ko, I will protect and I will support the police in this drive against shabu,” Duterte said.
“So walang dapat ikatakot ang mga pulis. Suportado ko sila na kung sabihin nila bakit si Duterte susuportahan ‘yung pulis. Natural, utos ko ‘yon eh. (The police have nothing to fear. I support them, and if they ask why Duterte is supporting them, natural, that’s my order). The fight against drug is mine. It was not somebody else’s order,” the President said, adding that “if anybody should go to prison, I should be the one. Ako ang nag-utos eh. (I gave the orders). So I assume full legal responsibility.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)