New angles, twists to Espinosa slay seen in Senate closed session
MANILA — Sen. Panfilo Lacson has closed his Senate committee’s inquiry into the Nov. 5 police killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., saying his conclusion will be similar to that of the National Bureau of Investigation of a double murder by a team from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
Lacson said his committee has concluded that Mayor Espinosa’s killing was “premeditated.” He added they got new information that boosted the conclusion of a “premeditated murder.”
He added that new twists and angles to the case surfaced during the executive session of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs on Wednesday.
“There is only one finding but there would be a difference on how we arrived at our findings,” Lacson also said. He called the findings of the NBI “more exhaustive and complete.”
The NBI has filed a multiple murder complaint with the Department of Justice, against 23 CIDG Region 8 (Eastern Visayas) men, including the CIDG-Eastern Visayas chief, Supt. Marvin Marcos, for the murder of Mayor Espinosa and his cell mate, another drug suspect Raul Yap, concluding that the Espinosa was killed in a rubout and not a shootout as claimed by the raiding policemen.
Last Nov. 5, the CIDG team raided the cell of Espinosa in the Leyte’s sub-provincial jail in Baybay City, allegedly in search for drugs and firearms and shot him dead because he allegedly fought back.
Lacson, chair of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, held on Wednesday, an executive session with government officials and investigators that included Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to discuss “classified matters” and gather additional data to reinforce the findings and recommendations of his committee on the killing of Mayor Espinosa.
He said that during the executive session, they discussed possible motives in the killing of Espinosa. He said the testimony of the mayor’s son, confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, that some of the CIDG men led by Marcos, were on his payroll, was among the motives established in the Senate inquiry.
Lacson said his committee got new information on other motives but did not want to elaborate.
Lacson also revealed a “twist” in the investigation after the NBI got hold of a CCTV footage from a nearby office of the Department of Public Works and Highways. He said the footage showed the CIDG team entering the Baybay jail at 3:05 a.m. of Nov. 5.
Earlier during the hearing, Marcos said the CIDG team entered the jail at 4:30 a.m. but the Scene of the Crime Operatives had said the CIDG called them at 3:49 a.m. This had prompted Lacson to say that the killing of Mayor Espinosa was premeditated because these operatives were called ahead of the raid itself.
On Wednesday though, Lacson noted that Marcos had changed his earlier statement at the last hearing and claimed that the CIDG men actually did enter at 3:05 am.
“(Marcos) has a malevolent reason why he changed the timeline….There is another motive why he deliberately said it was 4:30 a.m. earlier,” he said.
Lacson said the CCTV footage inside the jail had gone missing on the day the CIDG team went there and killed Mayor Espinosa.
“Who will benefit from the missing CCTV? Is it not those who will be incriminated? Because that could be put up as a defense by the CIDG team if they release the video,” Lacson added.
He also said Aguirre vowed to expedite the Department of Justice’s preliminary investigation into the NBI murder complaint against Marcos and his men. The DOJ has set the hearing on Dec. 20.
Lacson said he would report out his committee’s findings and recommendations in January during the resumption of Congress sessions. SFM
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