By Mario J. Mallari and Julius Leonen
Supt. Marvin Marcos and his group, tagged in the killing of former Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., surrendered to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Region 8 (CIDG-8) after warrants of arrest were issued against them by a Leyte court.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald de la Rosa said all of the 20 PNP personnel charged in the November 5, 2016 killing of Espinosa inside the Leyte Sub-Provincial Jail were all accounted for.
Dela Rosa, during an interview by Camp Crame reporters, said that the CIDG-8 immediately served the warrants against Marcos and his men for murder issued by a Leyte court.
“Twenty of them were issued with warrants for murder. All of them are accounted for at the CIDG Region 8. They are just awaiting court order on where are they going to be remanded,” said Dela Rosa
Most probably, the chief PNP said that the former CIDG-8 personnel would be committed in a Leyte jail where the crime was committed.
According to dela Rosa, the administrative case against Marcos and his men, being handled by the PNP-Internal Affairs Service (IAS), will be released by March 31.
“The timeline being worked out by IAS is up to March 31 to come up with final recommendation on their case,” said dela Rosa.
If found liable, the respondents wil face dismissal from the service. The 20 accused PNP officers have been placed under restrictive custody after the filing of administrative and criminal cases against them.
Earlier, President Duterte expressed his support to Marcos’ group saying he sticks to the “truthfulness” of the police’s version of what happened inside the Leyte Sub-Provincial Jail in the wee hours of November 5 last year.
This, despite the findings of Senate committees on public order and dangerous drugs and justice and human rights, chaired by Senators PanfiloLacson and Richard Gordon, respectively, declared the killing of Espinosa was “premeditated.”
The Senate reported that the CIDG-8 personnel attempted to cover up their links to Espinosa in his illegal drug activities.
Last year, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) also declared the incident as a “rubout” and not a shootout as claimed by Marcos and his men.
DoJ indicts Marcos, men
The Department of Justice (DoJ) also indicted Marcos and his underlings in connection with the alleged “rubout” of Espinosa and his fellow inmate Raul Yap.
Espinosa and Yap were shot dead inside their cell at the Baybay City Sub-Provincial Jail in Leyte last November 5 after CIDG-8 operatives served a search warrant to investigate an alleged eyewitness claim that the two were in possession of illegal drugs and firearms.
Following investigations into the shooting, the NBI filed multiple murder charges against 24 CIDG-8 operatives who have been tagged in the killing.
The NBI, citing its investigative report, said that Espinosa had died in a “rubout” when he was gunned down together with Yap by CIDG-8 operatives.
In its 24-page resolution dated March 2, 2017, the DoJ found that Marcos and eighteen others conspired to kill Espinosa, stressing that there was no need to obtain a search warrant from a judge as the victims were already detained inside a cell.
The DoJ further stated that Marcos and CIDG operatives who came with him had abused their authority in serving the search warrant by forcibly opening the City Jail’s gate with a bolt cutter and ordering jail guards to kneel and face the wall.
“The killings are qualified by evident premeditation since the attack was well-planned. The records will show that respondents craftily executed the killings under the pretense of implementing a search warrant,” the DoJ said in its resolution.
“They planned to kill Mayor Espinosa and Mr. Yap during the pre-operation meeting before the raid,” the resolution stated. “(T)heir unified act before, during and after the commission of the crime, prove respondents’ determination to kill the victims.”
Among the operatives who have been indicted for one count of murder for Espinosa’s killing are Supt. Marcos, Supt. Noel G. Matira, Chief Inspector Leo Laraga, SPO4 Melvin Cayobit, PO3 Johnny Ibañez, Senior Inspector Deogacias Diaz III, SPO2 Benjamin Dacallos, PO3 Norman Abellanosa, PO1 Jerlan Cabiyaan, Chief Inspector Calixto Canillas, Jr, Senior Inspector Lucrecito Candilosas, SPO2 Antonio R. Docil, SPO1 Mark Christian Cadilo, PO2 Jhon Ruel Doculan, and PO2 Jaime P Bacsal.
Those who have been indicted for one count of murder for Yap’s killing are Marcos, Diaz, Dacallos, Abellanosa, Cabiyaan, Canillas, Candilosas, Cadillo, Doculan, Bacsal, SPO4 Juanito Duarte, PO1 Lloyd Ortigueza, Senior Inspector Fritz Blanco, PO1 Bhernard Orpilla, and SPO2 Antonio Docil.
In addition, the DoJ indicted Laraga, Abellanosa, and Paul G. Olendan for two counts of violation of Article 120 of the Revised Penal Code for maliciously obtaining search warrants and abuse of service. The DoJ also indicted Olendan for perjury.
The DoJ, however, cleared Senior Inspector Eric Constantino, SPO2 Alphinor Serrano Jr., PO1 Kristal Jane Gisma, PO1 Divine Grace Songalla, and PO2 Niel Centino as the charges against them lacked probable cause.
“There is want of evidence on record that they participated in the searching team. They were neither present during the pre-briefing operation nor in the implementation of the search warrants,” the DoJ said.
The DoJ added that Centino has been absent without official leave, or AWOL, since October 5, 2016, therefore absolving him from case.