MANILA–The Department of Justice has approved the filing of murder of charges against the policemen involved in the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa and another inmate inside their detention cell in Baybay, Leyte last November.
In 24-page resolution dated March 2 but was released to media on Monday, the DOJ panel of prosecutors found probable cause to indict 19 Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) Regional Office 8 operatives led by Supt. Marvin Marcos before the Baybay City, Leyte Regional Trial Court.
The panel prosecutors found that the murder of Mayor Espinosa and inmate Raul Yap were attended by treachery and the respondents used stealth to carry out the raid, citing that they were armed and they clearly outnumbered the victims.
“The panel likewise determined that the respondents strategically positioned themselves to secure the ingress and egress of the jail facility. It was also determined that evident premeditation was also present since the attack was well-planned, with the execution of the killings under the deception of implementing a search warrant,” said part of the resolution signed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Lilian Doris Alejo who headed the prosecution panel and approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Pedrito Rancis.
It was also determined that evident premeditation was also present since the attack was well planned, with the execution of the killings under the deception of implementing a search warrant.
Marcos and 10 of his men- S/Insp Deogracia Pedong Diaz III, C/Insp. Calixto Canillas Jr., Insp. Lucresito Candelosas, SPO2s Benjamin Dacallos and Antonio Docil, SPO1 1 Mark Christian Cadilo, PO3 Norman Abellanosa, PO2s John Ruel Doculan and Jaime Bacsal, and PO1 Jerlan Cabiyaan- were charged with two counts of murder for allegedly being involved in the killings of Espinosa and Yap.
Four other police officers were charged for the killing of Espinosa – Supt. Santi Noel Matira, C/Insp.Leo Daio Laraga, SPO4 4 Melvin Caboyit and PO3 Johnny Abuda Ibanez – while four others for the murder of Yap – S/Insp. Fritz Bioco Blanco, SPO4 4 Juanito Duarte, PO2 Lloyd Ortiguesa and PO1 1 Bernard Orpilla.
Abellanosa, Laraga and witness Paul Olendan were also indicted for two counts of Article 129 of Revised Penal Code for maliciously obtaining search warrants.
Meantime, the charges against respondents PO1s Cristal Jane Briones Gisma, Divine Grace Baclas Songalia and PO2 Niel Centeno were dismissed since the policewomen were not present during the operation that led to the killing of Espinosa and Yap, while Centeno’s status was absent without official leave at the time of the operation.
The murder charges against Insp. Eric Constantino and SPO2 Alphinor Serrano were also dismissed for lack of probable cause.
The DOJ also recommended the filing of administrative charges against Basey, Samar Executive Judge Tarcelo Sabare who issued the search warrant used by the police team in the raid at the detention cell where Espinosa and Yap were detained.
The resolution said there is no need for the search warrant since the jail is a government detention facility.
“The application and subsequent issuance of a search warrant by Judge Tarcelo Sabare was highly irregular, unnecessary and un-procedural. Respondents have ready access to the said jail by merely coordinating the alleged search with the jail administrator,” the DOJ said adding it will sent a copy of the resolution to the Supreme Court’s Office of Court Administrator for proper action on Sabare.
Marcos said the operation was conducted after they received information that firearms and illegal drugs were present in Espinosa’s detention cell.
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the indictment only goes to show that the government will not tolerate any misdeeds of its officers.
“The filing of this case in court precipitated the issuance of the arrest warrant against the concerned PNP-CIDG personnel. This is the arrest warrant that Chief PNP Ronald dela Rosa was referring to. It is said that the dead cannot cry out for justice. It is therefore the duty of the living to do so for them. We hope that by the combined efforts of the NBI and our prosecution service, we can really serve justice in this case,” Aguirre said when sought for comment.
It will be recalled that citing testimonial and forensic evidence, the NBI said the killing of Espinosa, who has earlier surrendered to the authorities after he and his son Kerwin were named by President Rodrigo Duterte as being involved in the illegal drugs trade, and Yap, were a result of rub-out and not a shootout as claimed by the policemen who conducted the raid
During the Senate hearing on public order and dangerous drugs and the committee on justice and human rights said the death of Espinosa and Yap was “premeditated and with abuse of authority” on the part of the police operatives.
Espinosa’s son, self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa claimed that Marcos, Laraga and Matira received payoffs from him.
The committees headed by Senator Panfilo Lacson and Richard Gordon said Espinosa was killed to cover up the involvement of some of the police officers in the illegal drugs trade.