QC court acquits 19 cops tagged in ex-Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa slay
MANILA, Philippines — The Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QCRTC) has acquitted 19 police officers of homicide over the death of Albuera town mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. and a fellow inmate.
Atty. Roland Inting, who represented one of the accused, said the promulgation was conducted Wednesday afternoon via video conferencing at QCRTC Branch 104.
According to Inting, none of the prosecution’s six witnesses was able to identify from among the accused that they were part of the group that supposedly killed Espinosa and another inmate, Raul Yap, inside the Baybay Sub-Provincial Jail in November 2016.
“If witnesses failed to identify an accused in open court, the case against the accused should be dismissed,” he said in a phone interview.
He also said that after the prosecution had finished presenting their evidence, they opted not to present any further proof.
The 19 police officers led by Col. Marvin Marcos were initially charged with murder.
A panel of prosecutors noted treachery in the death of Espinosa and Yap, that there was secrecy in the respondents’ raid, and that the respondents’ clearly outnumbered and outarmed the victims.
The panel’s resolution was based on the findings of the National Bureau of Investigation.
The police officers then filed a petition for review and sought to downgrade the case from murder to homicide.
In granting the petition, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said there was nothing on record that indicates there was evident premeditation in this case.
“Not a single witness was present during the pre-operation meeting where it was surmised that the ‘plan’ was hatched by the respondents,” states the DOJ resolution.
On the use of excessive force, the DOJ says “the participation of the 19 police respondents during the incident does not meet this qualifying circumstance.”
“It is just reasonable and logical that a police operation requires several armed men to ensure its success, their protection, and security,” the resolution adds.
For the DOJ, “necessary force” was used to implement the search warrant since jail guards did not allow them to enter the facility.
It further noted that Espinosa and Yap tested positive for gunpowder, confirming the claims of the police that the two inmates fought it out.
Espinosa’s son, self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, claimed that two of the involved police officers 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 drug trade.
On March 31, 2017, Duterte said he is ready to pardon Marcos and the other police officers involved in the death of Espinosa and Yap. Once they plead guilty, he said he will grant them an absolute pardon.
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