Superintendent Marvin Marcos and 18 other police officers accused in the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa were released from detention after posting a P40,000-bail on Friday, June 16.
This came after the Department of Justice (DOJ) amended the complaint against the respondents and filed a motion to downgrade the charges against police officers from murder to homicide, which is a lesser and bailable offense.
Baybay Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Carlos Arguelles signed the release order for Marcos and his 18 co-accused.
On November 5 last year, Espinosa was fatally shot inside his cell at the Leyte Sub-Provincial Jail in Baybay City after allegedly resisting arrest and exchanging shots with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) lead by Marcos.
Another detainee, Raul Yap, was also killed during the supposed resistance while the CIDG was serving the warrant.
Espinosa was tagged as among the biggest drug lords in Eastern Visayas. He was also among the first officials President Rodrigo Duterte accused publicly in connection with his campaign against illegal drugs.
Apart from Marcos, other cops released from prison were Superintendent Marvin Marcos, Superintendent Santi Noel G. Matira, Chief Inspector Leo D. Laraga, Senior Police Officer 4 Melvin M. Cayobit, Police Officer 3 Johnny A. Ibañez. Chief Inspector Calixto C. Canillas Jr, Senior Police Officer 4 Juanito A. Duarte and Police Officer 1 Lloyd O. Ortigueza.
Senior Inspector Fritz B. Blanco, Police Office 1 Bhernard R. Orpilla, Senior Inspector Deogacias P. Diaz III, Senior Police Officer 2 Benjamin L. Dacallos, Police Officer 3 Norman T. Abellanosa, Police Officer 1 Jerlan S. Cabiyaan, Inspector Lucrecito A. Candilosas, Senior Police Officer 2 Antonio R. Docil, Senior Police Officer 1 Mark Christian Cadilo, Police Officer 2 Jhon Ruel Doculan, and Police Officer 2 Jaime P. Bacsal also posted bail.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said the charges against the police officers were downgraded due to the absence of evident premeditation.
In its earlier probe, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) concluded that Espinosa was slain in a ‘rubout,’ and not in a shootout incident.
Like the NBI, the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs concluded in its separate investigation that the death of Espinosa was a “premeditated murder.”
Senators slam ‘flip-flop king’ Aguirre
The six-member Senate Minority bloc is set to file a resolution “expressing grave concern” over the downgrading of murder charges against the police officers in Espinosa slay.
In a statement, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon described the DOJ’s move as “anomalous and suspicious.”
He said the “abrupt downgrading of the case against Superintendent Marvin Marcos and his cohorts from murder to homicide is a big blow to the justice system in the country.”
“This is a very disappointing development insofar as the ability of the government to prevent and prosecute police abuses and irregularities is concerned,” Drilon added.
Detained Senator Leila de Lima also questioned the Justice Department’s decision.
“How can the DOJ not see and appreciate the presence of the qualifying circumstance of evident premeditation, and even abuse of superior strength, in the execution of such criminal act which bears the hallmarks of summary execution?” De Lima, also a former DOJ secretary, said in a statement.
She went on to say the DOJ’s initial adoption of the NBI’s recommendation was “just for show, a charade,” when the end result was to “downgrade the charges, as done now, and ultimately weaken the case vs. those rogue police officers and men.”
Calling Aguirre a “flip-flop king,” Senator Risa Hontiveros, meanwhile, said that by lessening the charges against the accused in the Espinosa killing, he “also effectively further downgraded his reputation and integrity before the public’s eyes.”
“This may be the last straw for many of us. We cannot allow Secretary Aguirre to continue to toy around with our justice system. Enough’s enough,” Hontiveros added.
Also part of the Senate minority bloc are Drilon and Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Bam Aquino, and Antonio Trillanes IV.
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