Senate committee to investigate Espinosa’s death inside Leyte jail
Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate justice and human rights committee, said on Sunday he planned to call an investigation of the killing of Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. inside his jail cell by a police team before dawn on Saturday.
Gordon shrugged off calls that he resume hearings on extrajudicial executions, which closed last month after members protested that the inquiry had turned into an investigation into activities of a purported death squad when President Duterte was mayor of Davao City.
“We will have to conduct a separate investigation of this case because we have wrapped up the previous investigation and the committee report is ready for submission,” Gordon said in a statement.
Clear case of EJK
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said at the weekend that Espinosa’s death was a “clear case of EJK (extrajudicial killing)” and called for the resumption of the Senate inquiry into drug-related deaths.
He was joined by Sen. Leila de Lima, who was ousted as panel chair, for insisting on putting on the stand a confessed hit man to testify against summary executions during Mr. Duterte’s term as mayor.
She said that the involvement of bigger drug personalities in the so-called war on drugs required the reopening of the hearing.
“At a time when people are searching for answers behind the unresolved cases of EJKs, and when President Duterte himself attested to their existence, the Senate must meet the public’s growing expectation for truth and accountability,” Sen. Risa Hontiveros said.
PNP probe team
A team from the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) head office in Camp Crame, Quezon City, flew to Leyte province on Sunday to look into the slaying of Espinosa.
The CIDG director, Chief Supt. Roel Obusan, said the team was composed of Senior Supt, Ramon Rafael, lawyer Virgilio Pablico and SPO1 Rudy Gahar.
Obusan earlier ordered the CIDG personnel of Region 8 (Eastern Visayas) responsible in serving the search warrant on Espinosa and inmate Raul Yap restricted to their quarters. They were also told to make themselves available for investigation.
The PNP-Internal Affairs Office, whose Region 8 office is also making its own administrative investigation of the incident, vowed that its probe would be impartial and independent.
“We assure the public that IAS is conducting an independent and impartial investigation. We continue to be committed to the principle of professionalized police service and accountability to the public and institutions we serve,” IAS acting deputy inspector general Chief Supt. Leo Angelo Leuterio said in a statement.
In a separate statement, Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno said the PNP inquiry should determine whether there were procedural lapses.
“We want to know if CIDG Region 8 followed standard operating procedures in undertaking this operation and in serving the search warrant to Espinosa and Yap,” Sueno said.
PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa, who is in Las Vegas to watch Sen. Manny Paquiao’s boxing match, said in a television interview Saturday that there would be no cover-up in the investigation.
“We will not hide anything. If they (CIDG operatives) did something wrong, they will be held accountable for it. We will not cover up. Those who doubt the investigation, there’s no reason to do so,” he said.
Senior Deputy Minority Leader Rep. Lito Atienza, in a press statement, said policemen had turned into “brutal monsters on account of the ‘culture of killings and death’ fomented by the Duterte administration.”
Atienza said that the UN human rights special rapporteur must “specially investigate” Espinosa’s killing, as well as the Oct. 9 murder of Mindoro Oriental anticrime advocate Zenaida Luz. Two junior police officers were arrested after shooting Luz.
“Enough is enough already. Camp Crame has to put an end to these summary executions,” Atienza said.
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