Judges handling cases of slain Espinosa face admin raps
Two regional trial courts in Visayas are facing formal administrative probe after one issued a search warrant used by the police to justify the operation against Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. and another for sitting on his motion that he be transferred to another detention facility.
Espinosa filed a motion to transfer detention before Baybay, Leyte RTC Branch 14 Judge Carlos O. Arguelles while Basey, Samar RTC Branch 30 Judge Tarcelo A. Sabarre Jr. issued the search warrants against Espinosa and fellow inmate Raul Yap. The warrant was implemented on Nov. 5 that led to the deaths of the two inmates.
Aside from the two judges, the high court also ordered an administrative probe against Calbiga, Samar RTC Branch 33 Judge Janet M. Cabalona who also issued a search warrant against detainees in a government facility that also led to the deaths of the detainees.
The three judges were given 10 days from notice to respond to the complaints and provide the Office of the Court Administrator with copies of the applications for search warrants of police officers, transcript of stenographic notes during the hearings as well as anonymous letters to Sabarre and Cabalona.
Espinosa sought a transfer of detention due to risk to his life. However, the court has not immediately acted on his motion.
The high court said Arguelles should been more alert in acting on Espinosa’s motion since two other inmates, Edgar Allan Alvarez and Fernando Balagbis, were killed a few months before Espinosa. Alvarez was killed on August 2016 while Balagbis was killed Oct. 28.
“These incidents should have alerted Judge Arguelles to the fact that the perceived threats on the life of Espinosa while in detention at the Sub-Provincial Jain in Baybay City were not merely imagined but real,” the high court said.
“Furthermore, it appears that Espinosa, Yap, Alvarez and Balagbis were all detained within the territorial jurisdiction of either the RTC of Baybay Leyte Branch 14 or the RTC of Abuyog, Leyte, Branch 10—both presided by Judge Arguelles,” the high court said.
Sabarre, on the other hand, issued the warrant based on the testimony of Paul Olendan. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said Olandan provided false information when he testified in court that he saw Espinosa with a gun inside the jail facility while Yap was in possession of illegal drugs.
“The situation in this case is made more grievous by the fact that several persons have been killed in circumstances brought about by a court process,” the high court said.
“In the interest of the administration of justice, it is important that the circumstances behind the resolution of the motion for transfer of detention and the issuance of the search warrants be delved into more deeply,” the high court added. RAM/rga
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.