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TURNING POINT: A Landmark Disaster

NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 13 Nov) — The script was inane and incredulous; the directing, lousy and odious as hell. Moreover, the players failed to put their act together to deliver even just a passable performance.

The liquidation team secured a search warrant from a judge in a far away Samar municipality evidently to gain access to their target detained in the sub provincial jail of Baybay, Leyte. The application and issuance of the search warrant verged on the ridiculous and idiotic because it was legally unnecessary in as much as the subject of the search was already in government custody inside a detention facility. Yet it has to be secured to gain unimpeded access to the cell of the target. The warrant had to be served at dawn by a total of 24 Philippine National Police-Crime Investigation Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) and maritime operatives. The warrant, notwithstanding, the team forced open the gate of the jailhouse and disarmed and restrained the prison guards. Then the target, Mayor Rolando Espinosa of Albuera, Leyte, months earlier named no less than by the President of the Republic as a big time drug lord, and another inmate, accordingly a drug dealer, Raul Yap, were summarily executed under the pretext as usual, of a shootout.

 A rational mind that followed the Senate probe on the Espinosa killing would easily recognize that it was murder plain and simple, a lousily planned execution to silence the victim from revealing something. Weeks before his assassination, Espinosa   had accordingly signed an affidavit which among others, named a number of high ranking government officials who are involved one way or another in the commerce of illegal drugs.

The Espinosa disaster in the Duterte administration’s unrelenting war on illegal drugs on 05 November 2016 marked the beginning of the plummet of the highly popular populist Duterte presidency.

It was tragic enough that the assassination of Espinosa inside a government detention facility was executed by government operatives of the PNP- CIDG. It does not help that the town mayor already surrendered to and was assured protection by the Chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) himself. The slay of Espinosa inside his detention cell loudly undermined the credibility of the Duterte government,  a situation worsened by the President’s public admiration of the ghastly act of the CIDG operatives and by his assurance of support to the group, a stance on direct collision course with that of his PNP chief who immediately relieved all concerned from their posts.

A question is raised, “Who gains or benefits from the elimination of Espinosa?”

Definitely, the government has nothing to gain but everything to lose with the liquidation of a potential high profile state witness. Without the affiant around to attest the veracity of his statements in court , the purportedly explosive Espinosa affidavit loses its probative value, hence, a great lose to the Duterte administration’s vaunted war against illegal drugs.

But who are really afraid of an Espinosa exposé that he has to be silenced nakedly by agents of the government who are also in the forefront of the drug war?

Would they include some high officials in the Duterte government?

And who is that powerful enough as to order the use of a unit of the PNP to carry out the sinister operation?

To attribute  the salvaging of Espinosa, as Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre has immediately suggested, to Senator De Lima, the most vitriolic critic of Duterte who has been vilified incessantly as a drug coddler and whose name was reported to have figured prominently in the Espinosa affidavit is stretching the inanities of the PRRD camp to absurdity. Blaming it to her implies that Sen. De Lima has such power and command in the PNP that could put the Commander-in-Chief in the blind.

On the other hand, silencing Espinosa could be a wicked ploy of the Duterte camp to gain another mileage in its sadistic campaign to demolish De Lima – to pin down the unyielding lady senator deeper into the muck using the trademark shaming strategy of PRRD, with Espinosa’s death being simply an addition to the statistics of collateral damage? (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan is a retired professor and former chancellor of the Mindanao State University Naawan campus in Misamis Oriental).


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