EDITORIAL: In disarray

At last the cat is now out of the bag. After having been informed that his name is included in Malacañan’s so called NARCO list, Police Lt. Col Jovie Espenido asserted that his case was due to “failure of intelligence.”

Espenido’s plight cannot be taken lightly. It is at the very center of the conflicting claims between Malacañan on one side and DILG Secretary Eduardo Año, with the Philippine National Police on the other side. “Between the devil and the deep blue sea,” so to state.

This is so because while Espenido has been for a longtime Malacañan’s darling in connection with the anti-drug war which credibility is now under severe test. In a sense the protests linked to senseless killings surrounding the anti-drug campaign finds in Espinido a solid proof.

Consequently the situation boils down into the propriety of the campaign insofar as observance of due process is concerned.

If Espenido himself could be subjected to a bungled intelligence operation, how much more with the ordinary and uninfluential people who died at the height of the campaign?

This further leads us to the question of accountability of the people behind the senseless killings, which may have resulted from what Espenido describes as failure of intelligence.

Good for Espenido because his case may still undergo thorough inquiry which means it would be subject to criminal and administrative proceedings, wherein the quantum of evidence is different. The former requires guilt beyond reasonable doubt while the latter needs substantial evidence.

It is highly doubtful if the embattled police officer could be held criminally liable, especially taking under consideration that Malacanan itself has backtracked and even went to the extent of asserting that Espenido is clean.

That leaves Año and the PNP in a serious quandary. That lends credence to the impression that the entire peace and order campaign is in disarray, what with the chief executive saying one thing with one of his alter egos stating exactly the opposite.

Apparently, the leadership of the PNP, joined by a Senator who does not seem to know the value of due process and even pointing out that those killed in the course of the anti-drug campaign are just collateral damages because “sometimes shit happens,” are in the thick of employing damage control.

Espenido could be afforded due process. But what about those who Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa pictured as collateral damage? The unprominent. The poor. The defenseless.

In a matter of months Espenido’s case will just be part of “failure of intelligence” stories. And as has often been the ending, the terms that almost certainly will gain prominence—“sinibak,” and “floating status,” shall resurface.

Lucky for Espinido because “sinibak” means simply being given new assignment. Floating means no specific area of assignment. They never mean being fired or removed from service.

Meantime honest to goodness intelligence, the very foundation of due process, is buried. Truth and justice lie alongside.