The case stemmed from the complaint filed by Carmelita Manzano, kin of the victims in the bloody raid on June 1, 2017.
Senate file photo
DOJ indicts Espenido over bloody June 2017 Ozamiz raid
Kristine Joy Patag ( - September 20, 2018 - 10:58am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice has indicted Ozamiz City Police Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido, one of the cops earlier cited by President Rodrigo Duterte in the government's drug war, over the killing of nine robbery suspects in a raid in June 2017.

Espenido, SPO4 Renato Martir Jr. and PO1 Sandra Nadayag are facing homicide charges over the killing of nine people in what the police claimed as a "hot pursuit" against robbery suspects in Ozamiz City last year.

The DOJ, meanwhile, has junked murder complaints against Espenido, Martir Jr., Nadayag and PCI Glyndo Pujanes for “lack of probable cause.”

READ: Duterte orders cops to kill 'idiots' violently resisting arrest

June 1 raid

The case stemmed from the complaint filed by Carmelita Manzano, kin of the victims in the bloody raid on June 1, 2017.

According to Manzano, three policemen alighted from a black vehicle and entered her house while they are celebrating the birthday of her brother-in-law. The cops “immediately started shooting.”

Manzano said that she and three of her grandchildren were later transferred to a house across hers. Then “she heard continuous shots coming from outside.”

The complainant said that she later learned that six, including five of her family, died in the said police operation.

Espenido defense

According to Espenido, he and his men were conducting a hot pursuit operation against suspects of robberies and killings in Ozamiz City.

He also claimed that the first gunshots came from those who were killed. The resolution said that Espenido claimed, “their deaths were the product of a legitimate encounter which was triggered by initial gunfire coming from the victims.”

DOJ: Accused wishes to 'justify' deaths with fulfillment of duty

The DOJ, in resolving the complaint, pointed out that the police, while claiming that it was a legitimate police operation, also admitted to killing the victims.

“In other words, they wish to avail of the justifying circumstance of fulfillment of a duty or killing in the lawful exercise of a right or office,” the DOJ said.

“Unfortunately for respondents, their admission of killing the herein victims is, on its own, sufficient to establish probable cause for the crime of homicide,” the resolution further read.

The Justice department also noted the SC’s jurisprudence that where the accused admits to killing and his defense is grounded on “a justifying circumstance, it is incumbent upon him to prove such justifying circumstance to the satisfaction of the court.”

The DOJ, however, noted that no evidence was presented to qualify the killing as murder, as defined by Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code.

The complainant nor any of the witnesses “actually saw the killing,” the Justice department also said. “As such there is no basis to qualify the charge of homicide to murder.”

The 10-page resolution was penned by Assistant State Prosecutor Loverhette Jeffrey Villordon.

Espenido-led raids

Espenido was serving as chief of police of Albuera, Leyte when police raided the house of then-Mayor Rolando Espinosa.

Espinosa was later killed while in detention, in what the National Bureau of Investigation said was a rubout and not a shootout.

Almost two months after the June 1 raid, Espenido also led the raid in the residence of the late Ozamiz City Mayor Parojinog where more than 10 people were killed.

President Rodrigo Duterte, in a speech marking National Heroes, Day last year, cited Espenido’s efforts in drug war.

“Your duty requires you to overcome the resistance of the person you are arresting….[If] he resists, and it is a violent one, placing in jeopardy the lives of my policemen, and of course, the military, you are free to kill the idiots. That is my order to you,” Duterte said to Espenido.

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