DOJ downgrades case vs Espinosa killers to homicide
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - June 8, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has downgraded from murder to homicide the charges filed against members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) involved in the killing of Albuera, Leyte mayor Rolando Espinosa last year.

In a ruling dated May 29, the DOJ amended the complaint against 19 respondents, led by CIDG Region 8 chief Supt. Marvin Marcos.

Leyte prosecutors filed on June 6 a motion before the Baybay City Regional Trial Court Branch 14 informing the RTC about the DOJ’s decision to indict the respondents for homicide.

The DOJ ruling came after the CIDG officers asked the department to overturn the resolution of the five-man panel of prosecutors in Manila that led to their indictment and arrest last March.

With the DOJ ruling, Marcos and the other CIDG operatives may be temporarily released from detention since homicide is a bailable offense.

Espinosa and fellow inmate Raul Yap were killed while in detention in a sub-provincial jail in Leyte in November last year.

The CIDG operatives denied that the killing of Espinosa was a rubout, claiming that the Leyte mayor engaged them in a shootout when they served a search warrant.

The motion to downgrade the information for murder to homicide was signed by Leyte Provincial Prosecutor Ma. Arlene Hunamayor-Cordovez.

The DOJ denied the petition of the CIDG officers to dismiss the cases.

Marcos and 10 of his men were charged with two counts of murder last March in connection with the killing of Espinosa and Yap.

The other respondents are Senior Insp. Deogracia Pedong Diaz III, Chief Insp. Calixto Canillas Jr., Insp. Lucresito Candelosas, Senior Police Officers 2 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 murder of Espinosa. They were Supt. Santi Noel Matira, Chief Insp. Leo Daio Laraga, SPO4 Melvin Caboyit and PO3 Johnny Abuda Ibanez.

Senior Insp. Fritz Bioco Blanco, SPO4 Juanito Duarte, PO2 Lloyd Ortiguesa and PO1 Bernard Orpilla were charged for the killing of Yap.

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

Lacson disappointed

Sen. Panfilo Lacson expressed his disappointment over the DOJ decision to downgrade the charges filed against the policemen involved in the killing of Espinosa.

Lacson said it would be up to the courts to decide whether or not to grant the motion of state prosecutors to downgrade the murder charges to homicide.

Lacson concluded during the hearing by Senate committee on public services, which he heads, that the killing of Espinosa was premeditated.

President Duterte stood by the CIDG men involved in the murder of Espinosa. – With Marvin Sy, Miriam Desacada

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