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DOJ hit for downgrading raps vs Espinosa killers

MANILA, Philippines - Senators criticized yesterday the Department of Justice (DOJ) for downgrading the charges filed against police officers tagged in the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa.

“I guess we spoke too soon in commending the DOJ when it recommended the filing of information indicting Superintendent (Marvin) Marcos et al for double murder in spite of the loud and repeated pronouncements of President (Duterte) to the contrary,” Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Senate committee on public order, said yesterday, referring to the head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Eastern Visayas and 18 other CIDG men.

 The Senate committee said the killing was premeditated to keep Espinosa from disclosing names of his protectors in the Philippine National Police (PNP), who reportedly included Marcos.

The Baybay City regional trial court allowed Marcos and his men to post bail of P40,000 each after the DOJ downgraded the charges from murder to homicide. The policemen were released from prison on Friday. 

The CIDG men said they only defended themselves from Espinosa and fellow inmate Raul Yap who fired at them when they served a search warrant in a jail in Leyte in November last year.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said he was “very disappointed” with the decision of the DOJ.

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Sen. Francis Pangilinan said the findings of the DOJ must be appealed, noting that it was clear that the incident was murder.

PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said he was ”torn” between the court ruling and the need to discipline erring police officers, but stressed the need to respect the court.

”We have to respect whatever the decision of the court because that is how our criminal justice system works,” Dela Rosa said. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe

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