NBI: Mayor Espinosa was murdered, defenseless
Defenseless was how the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) described Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa and fellow inmate Raul Yap who were killed inside the Baybay provincial jail in Leyte on Nov. 5.
The NBI filed in the Department of Justice (DOJ) multiple murder and perjury cases against 24 members of the Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) Regional Office No. 8 in connection with the killing.
Facing complaint for multiple murder are Superintendents Marvin Wynn Marcos and Santi Noel Gaspang Matira, Chief Insp. Leo Daio Laraga, Senior Inspectors Deogracia Pedong Diaz and Fritz Bioco Blanco, Senior Police Officers 4 Juanito Ampado Duarte, Melvin Mendoza Caboyit and Eric Palattao Constantino, SPO2 Benjamin Layague Dacallos and Alphinor Milla Serrano, Jr., PO3 Johnny Abuda Ibanez, Norman Tiu Abellanosa and Lloyd Ortinez Ortiguesa, PO2 Niel Patrimonio Centino, PO1 Bernard Rodriguez Orpilla and Jerlan Sadia Cabiyaan, Cristal Jane Briones Gisma and Divine Grace Baclas Songalia, all assigned at CIDG Regional Office No. 8 in Port Area, Tacloban City; as well as Chief Insp. Calixto Cabardo Canillas Jr., Insp. Lucresito Adana Candelosas, SPO2 Antonio Romangca Docil, SPO1 Mark Christian Castillo Cadilo, PO2 John Ruel Baldevia Doculan and Jaime Pacuan Bacsal, all assigned at Regional Maritime Unit 8.
The NBI also recommended the filing of perjury charges against Laraga, Abellanosa and witness Paul Olendan for maliciously obtaining a search warrant.
The policemen entered the Baybay jail on the basis of a search warrant issued by Tarcelo Sabarre Jr., executive judge of Regional Trial Court Branch 30 in Basey, Samar.
Investigation conducted by the NBI showed that Olendan, whose testimony was used as basis for the search warrant, had lied in court.
Olendan said on Oct. 28, he was at Baybay jail and saw Yap repacking “shabu” inside his cell while Espinosa was holding a firearm.
However, according to NBI spokesperson Ferdinand Lavin, witnesses said Olendan was in Tacloban on that day.
“We were able to establish that Olendan did not go inside or anywhere near the [Baybay jail]. He was in Tacloban, 130 kilometers away from Baybay. This was testified to by his coworkers. Nag-biometric pa siya doon (He even had his biometrics there),” Lavin said, adding that even the assistant principal of Leyte National High School testified that Olendan reported for work on the said date.
Lavin added that the jail guards and inmates also testified that Olendan was not inside the jail on Oct. 28.
“We believe that the search warrant was a cover to legitimize the operation,” Lavin said.
Contrary to the police’s claim during the Senate inquiry that they entered Baybay jail at 4:10 a.m., CCTV footage from the Department of Public Works and Highways office nearby showed that they went inside the premises at 3:05 a.m. on Nov. 5.
During the Senate inquiry, the police said they called scene of the crime operatives (Soco) at 3:49 a.m. According to the NBI, the police are already finished with the operation by that time.
NBI Assistant Regional Director Gerry Abiera, who led the forensic team conducting an investigation at the crime scene, said jail guards and policemen were ordered to face the wall while some inmates were transferred to another cell at the time of the killing.
An inmate also testified that the operatives asked Yap his name and case before he was killed.
Espinosa, according to an inmate, was heard saying “magandang umaga po. Wag n’yo akong lagyan, wala akong ganyan (Good morning. Don’t plant anything against me, I don’t have any).”
After Espinosa was killed, another witness said a police operative wearing gloves and carrying a gun entered the mayor’s cell.
“The witness said when the man went out, he was no longer carrying the gun,” Lavin said.
On the trajectory of the shots, Lavin said if there was a shoot-out, there would have been shots fired toward the door, but there were none.
“This is a premeditated killing, superiority of force and defenseless, helpless ’yung victims dito (the victims here are helpless),” he said.
Lavin said another operative made a “thumbs down” signal and opened fire at the prison cells.
However, he said the NBI was not able to recover the footage because the hard drive of the CCTV was missing.
Still, “the forensic team did their best to recreate the crime scene. Our forensic findings are consistent with the testimonial evidence,” said Lavin.
“We respect the findings of the police but these are the findings of the NBI and we stand by our findings. We believe there is criminal intent. There was community of purpose, there was mission in their action, there was conspiracy,” he said.
The following illustrations provided by the NBI show the findings of the forensic team at the scene of the crime.
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