Police officer charged in Espinosa slay now heads CIDG-12

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 13) — The suspended police officer tagged in the killing of a mayor is now back in the force.

Supt. Marvin Marcos, who was accused in the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa, was reinstated and given a new assignment as chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Region 12, which has jurisdiction over South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, and General Santos City.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald dela Rosa on Thursday confirmed Marcos' reinstatement and new assignment, saying his administrative case has been resolved. His 18 co-accused are also back to work, Dela Rosa said.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday ordered the police officer's reinstatement, saying he served his four-month suspension, and is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Also read: Duterte on cops in Espinosa killing: I won't allow them to go to prison

Marcos is facing homicide charges for leading the CIDG-Eastern Visayas unit that killed Espinosa and one other inmate Raul Yap at the Baybay City sub-provincial jail in Leyte on November 5, 2016. Duterte tagged Espinosa in the illegal drug trade.

Marcos and his men were released on June 16 upon posting bail at P40,000 each. They were allowed to do so after the Justice Department downgraded their case from murder to homicide, stating there was no evidence of premeditation or plan to kill the victims.

Photos: Leyte Court orders detention of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa's alleged killers at CIDG-8

Marcos and his men claimed, they shot Espinosa in self-defense after he refused the search warrant and allegedly fired at them using a gun he managed to sneak into his jail cell.

Also read: Policemen in Espinosa-Yap slay plead not guilty

This is the second time Marcos was reinstated.

He was relieved on October 15 over his alleged involvement in the drug trade of Kerwin Espinosa, son of the late mayor, in the Visayas, but was reinstated on the same day, upon Duterte's orders.

Also read: Duterte: I was the one who called up 'Bato' to reinstate Supt. Marcos

Marcos was again removed from his post and surrendered to authorities in March this year, spending three months in detention before being allowed to post bail.

Senators condemn reinstatement

Lawmakers fear Marcos' reinstatement would further encourage a culture of impunity among policemen in line with the war on drugs.

"Duterte not only set the murderers free, he now gave back their badges and guns so they could murder again with impunity," said Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, one of the President's staunchest critics.

"The PNP could very well carry out its duties in protecting our people without somebody like Marcos and his cohorts," Senator Grace Poe said.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, chair of the Senate committee on public order which investigated Espinosa's killing, could not help but curse at Marcos' "back-on-duty status."

"In sum, there is a phrase to describe this whole damn thing: Put*ng I*a!" Lacson, former PNP chief said in a statement.

Senator Kiko Pangilinan said he found it "disturbing," especially that investigations conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation and the Senate both pointed to murder.

Read: NBI: Espinosa killing a rubout

Senator Bam Aquino said "the reinstatement of murderous cops is a danger to the Filipino people."

But Dela Rosa said the public should trust the PNP's decision.

May IAS (Internal Affairs Services) na nag-imbestiga at nagpatakbo sa kaso niya. Kung ang ibinigay sa kanya hindi dismissal, suspension lang or whatever lower than what is expected by the public, may mga rason yan kung bakit," Dela Rosa said.

[Translation: "There's an IAS who investigated his case. If Marcos was given a dismissal, suspension, or a sanction lower than what is expected by the public, there are reasons for that."]

In a November 23, 2016 Senate hearing on the Espinosa slay, Dela Rosa broke down into tears as he lamented he could not blame the public for losing faith in the police.

Duterte, meanwhile, has repeatedly stood by Marcos and other policemen linked to the killing, saying he will never let any of his men to go to jail in the performance of their duty.

This is a developing story. Please refresh page for updates.

CNN Philippines' Ina Andolong contributed to this report.