SENATOR Panfilo Lacson on Monday urged the Philippine National Police to provide an ample protection to witnesses whose testimonies are vital to the successful prosecution of cases against high profile and powerful drug suspects.
Lacson made the appeal after the killing of Ferdinand Rondina, an alleged bagman of suspected drug lord Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr., who had information on drug payoffs to policemen and government officials.
Rondina, 38, was watching TV at the barbecue stall of his sister outside his house in Ormoc City on Friday when two men wearing bonnets shot him repeatedly. The gunmen then approached the wounded Rondina and shot him in the face, according to witnesseses.
Lacson warned that all the gains by the government in its drug war would be rendered useless, if this kind of situation is not corrected.
“It is the government itself that will feel the brunt of not sucessfully prosecuting illegal drugs cases,” said the former PNP chief.
Opposition Senator Leila de Lima, who is also being implicated in the drug trade, said this should all be taken within the context of an administration that has become immune from criminal liability.
Senator Chiz Escudero asked PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa if they already have leads in the killing. “What have they done leading to the resolution of yet another extrajudicial killing in Ormoc?” he asked.
Escudero also wanted Dela Rosa to explain the status of policemen who were involved in the killing of Espinosa’s father Albuera Mayor Roland Espinosa inside a subprovincial jail in Leyte.
Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon said everyone in this country is entitled to protection whether you are a witness or not.
Sought for his comment on Espinosa being placed under the government’s Witness Protection Program, Drilon said this should be decided by the court and not the secretary of justice.
“The best way to handle this, is to let the court decide, whether or not KerwinEspinosa will qualify as a state witness, because there are certain standards. I will repeat, the credibility of the SOJ, in so far as this particular issue is concerned, is open to question,” explained Drilon.
He noted that the impartiality of the SOJ is open to question because of the exchanges of accusations.