Case vs cops in Espinosa slay downgraded to homicide
First published: 2:15 p.m., June 8, 2017
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has downgraded from murder to homicide the case against police officers led by Superintendent Marvin Marcos for the killing of Mayor Rolando Espinosa of Albuera, Leyte and a fellow inmate inside their detention cell at the Baybay Sub-Provincial Jail in Leyte last year.
Marcos and 10 of his men were charged with two counts of murder for the death of allegedly being involved in the killings of Espinosa and Yap.
The co-accused are Senior Insp. Deogracia Pedong Diaz III, Chief Insp. Calixto Canillas Jr., Insp. Lucresito Candelosas, SPO2s Benjamin Dacallos and Antonio Docil, SPO1 Mark Christian Cadilo, PO3 Norman Abellanosa, PO2s John Ruel Doculan and Jaime Bacsal, and PO1 Jerlan Cabiyaan
Four other police officers were charged for the killing of Espinosa – Supt. Santi Noel Matira, Chief Insp.Leo Daio Laraga, SPO4 4 Melvin Caboyit and PO3 Johnny Abuda Ibanez – while four others for the murder of Yap – Senior Insp. Fritz Bioco Blanco, SPO4 Juanito Duarte, PO2 Lloyd Ortiguesa and PO1 Bernard Orpilla following the March 2 resolution by the DOJ.
The accused filed a petition for review with the DOJ and released a resolution last May 29 and ordered the Leyte prosecutor to amend the charge sheet in court.
The motion was signed by Provincial Prosecutor Ma. Arlene Hunamayor-Cordovez and filed filed at the Baybay City Regional Trial Court Branch 14.
“It is respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court to recognize and give weight to the said resolution on the petition for review before the DOJ and after due hearing, grant leave for the public prosecution to amend and downgrade the Information for Murder to Homicide in these cases,” the motion said.
Cordovez filed the motion as ordered by the DOJ.
A case for murder is filed if it could be proven that it is attended by any of the qualifying aggravating circumstances under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code.
In this case, the March 2 resolution noted that the death of Espinosa and Yap were attended by treachery and the respondents used stealth to carry out the raid and that they clearly outnumbered and out-armed the victims.
“The panel likewise determined that the respondents strategically positioned themselves to secure the ingress and egress of the jail facility. It was also determined that evident premeditation was also present since the attack was well-planned, with the execution of the killings under the deception of implementing a search warrant,” said part of the resolution.
The resolution was signed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Lilian Doris Alejo, who headed the prosecution panel, and approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Pedrito Rancis.
The DOJ’s March 2 resolution was based on the findings of the National Bureau of Investigation.
But the DOJ, in its May 29 resolution said there was nothing on records to show that there was evident premeditation.
“Not a single witness was present during the pre-operation meeting where it was surmised that the “plan” was hatches by the respondents,” the DOJ resolution stated.
On the use of excessive force, the DOJ said: “The participation of the 19 police respondents during the incident does not meet this qualifying circumstance.”
“It is just reasonable and logical that police operation requires several armed men to ensure its success, their protection and security,” the resolution added.
The DOJ said it was not excessive but “necessary force” which was used to implement the search warrant since they were refused admission by the jail guards.
The DOJ added that Espinosa and Yap tested positive of gun powder confirming the claims of the police that the two inmates fought it out.
Last March 31, President Rodrigo Duterte said he was ready to pardon Marcos and the other police officers involved in the death of Espinosa and Yap. Once they plead guilty, he said he would grant them absolute pardon. /IDL /rga /atm
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