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Arrest warrants out for 19 cops in Espinosa slay

The Department of Justice said all the accused were already under the custody of the Philippine National Police in Region 8 and were undergoing booking procedures. STAR/Geremy Pintolo, file

MANILA, Philippines - Nineteen members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Eastern Visayas were ordered arrested yesterday for the murder of Albuera, Leyte mayor Rolando Espinosa and detainee Raul Yap four months ago.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) said all the accused were already under the custody of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Region 8 and were undergoing booking procedures.

PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said Baybay City Regional Trial Court Branch 14 Judge Carlos Arguelles issued the warrants for two counts of murder against Supt. Marvin Marcos, Senior Insp. Deogracia Pedong Diaz III, Chief Insp. Calixto Canillas Jr., Insp. Lucresito Candelosas, Senior Police Officers 2 Benjamin Dacallos and Antonio Docil, Senior Police Officer 1 Mark Christian Cadilo, Police Office 3 Norman Abellanosa, Police Officers 2 John Ruel Doculan and Jaime Bacsal and Police Officer 1 Jerlan Cabiyaan.

Four other police officers were charged for the murder of Espinosa – Supt. Santi Noel Matira, Chief Insp. Leo Daio Laraga, Senior Police Officer 4 Melvin Caboyit and Police Officer 3 Johnny Abuda Ibanez – and four others for murder of Yap – Senior Insp. Fritz Bioco Blanco, Senior Police Officer 4 Juanito Duarte, Police Officer 2 Lloyd Ortiguesa and Police Officer 1 Bernard Orpilla.

Abellanosa, Laraga and witness Paul Olendan were also indicted for two counts of Article 129 of the Revised Penal Code for maliciously obtaining search warrants.

Yesterday, the DOJ released its 24-page resolution, which became the basis for the filing of a complaint before the RTC last week, finding probable cause against the 19 officers. The resolution came a week after the Senate, in its joint committee report, also found criminal liability.

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“Upon completion of the booking procedure, which include fingerprinting, documentation, mugshot and medical examination, the Warrants of Arrest will be returned to the RTC Branch 14 and a corresponding commitment order is expected to be issued by the Court for the custody of the respondents,” the DOJ said in a statement.

The resolution was based on the findings of the DOJ panel of prosecutors – chaired by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Lilian Doris Alejo – that established the killings were attended by treachery and that the respondents used stealth to carry out the raid. 

The prosecutors pointed out that the CIDG men were armed and clearly outnumbered the two victims. 

They also ruled that evident premeditation was present since the attack was well planned and the killing was made under the deception of implementing a search warrant. 

The DOJ filed the case after the National Bureau of Investigation and Espinosa’s son Kerwin, a confessed drug lord now under government custody, filed a complaint and asked for an investigation.

Mariel Espinosa, daughter of the late mayor, said the indictment may be the first round of victory in their search for justice.

In a text message, she said their prayers were finally answered and that their family can now move forward.  – With Edu Punay, Lalaine Jimenea, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Miriam Desacada

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