Senators express grave concern over DOJ downgrading of Espinosa slay case
Opposition senators filed on Tuesday a resolution expressing the Senate’s grave concern over the decision of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to downgrade the charges against policemen behind the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. from murder to homicide.
Many senators, including the allies of President Rodrigo Duterte, have denounced the decision of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to reverse its earlier decision and give lighter criminal charges against the former chief of Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Eastern Visayas (CIDG-8) Supt. Marvin Marcos and his men.
In a three-page resolution, the senators said this move by the DOJ “fuels fears of a growing police impunity in the country.”
“(It also) sends a disturbing message that law enforcers are exempt from the rule of law and that abuses committed by policemen—purportedly in the course of their official duties—will be tolerated and the Constitutional guarantees of due process and the right to life, liberty, and property may be ignored,” it read.
Senator Risa Hontiveros initiated the writing of the resolution which was signed by Senators Franklin Drilon, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Leila De Lima, Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV and Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV.
In the resolution, the senators noted that Aguirre, during a November 23 inquiry on the Espinosa killing last year, categorically stated that given all the circumstances, he could conclude that the killing of Espinosa and his fellow inmate Raul Yap was premeditated.
“Further, he also considered the conduct of the operation at 4:30 in the morning as ‘very unusual’ and not consistent with the procedure. He also labeled the service of the search warrant for a single weapon at a provincial jail by 19 police personnel an ‘overkill,’ the resolution read.
After a series of inquiries, the Senate unanimously approved and adopted the resolution, which found that “the killing of Mayor Espinosa was premeditated and with abuse of authority on the part of the operatives of CIDG-8.”
But on May 29, the DOJ dismissed the murder charges against Marcos and his men and indicted them instead for the lesser and bailable offense of homicide.
Marcos and the other policemen have been released from detention on bail.
“Now therefore, be it resolved, as it is hereby resolved that the Senate (expresses) its grave concern over the decision of the DOJ to downgrade the charges,” it further said.
The resolution also directs the appropriate Senate committee to “inquire, in aid of legislation, why the recommendations of the Senate were ignored with the end in view of formulation remedial or corrective legislation.” JPV/rga
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