Duterte vows to pro­tect po­lice

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

MANILA: Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte yes­ter­day de­fended po­lice of­fi­cers who killed a de­tained mayor on a list of top drug sus­pects even af­ter an­other law en­force­ment agency con­cluded the death was an ex­tra­ju­di­cial killing. The Na­tional Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion (NBI) on Tues­day dis­puted a po­lice ac­count that the mayor from cen­tral Leyte Prov­ince, Rolando Espinosa, was killed in a shootout in a jail when po­lice came to search for guns and drugs last month.

The bureau de­scribed Espinosa’s killing as a “rub out”. “I will have to de­fend them,” Duterte said dur­ing a cer­e­mony at the main army base in the cap­i­tal, Manila, re­fer­ring to the po­lice of­fi­cers. “I will lis­ten to the story and I will take it as the true ver­sion ... be­cause they are un­der me, I should be­lieve them.” Ear­lier, Duterte had put Espinosa’s name on a list of top drug sus­pects. The mayor, who de­nied in­volve­ment in nar­cotics, was ar­rested on Oct 5 on drugs and firearms charges.

Po­lice said Espinosa and a fel­low pris­oner, Raul Yap, fired at a po­lice team that had come to search their cells. Po­lice re­turned fire and killed them. Po­lice say 2,004 peo­ple have been shot and killed by of­fi­cers in self-de­fense dur­ing anti-drug op­er­a­tions since the pres­i­dent took of­fice on July 1. Espinosa’s killing was also in­ves­ti­gated by se­na­tors, who doubted the po­lice ver­sion of events be­cause they said there were many in­con­sis­ten­cies in the of­fi­cial re­port and wit­ness ac­counts. Duterte said he did not be­lieve the in­ves­ti­ga­tion done by the NBI be­cause they had no cred­i­ble wit­nesses. “As a mat­ter of fact, I’m ready to go to jail for them, no prob­lem,” he added. In­ves­ti­ga­tors have filed mur­der cases against 21 po­lice of­fi­cers in con­nec­tion with Espinosa’s death.

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