Cops in Espinosa slay case out on bail

MANILA, Philippines – After charges against them were downgraded from murder to homicide, police accused of killing Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa were released on bail.

Former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Region 8 chief Superintendent Marvin Marcos and 18 others posted bail of P40,000 for each case filed against them on Friday afternoon, June 16, according to Superintendent Zacarias Noel Villegas.

They were released to their families after Regional Trial Court Judge Carlos Arguelles, who is hearing the case, issued a release order for the cops.

National police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said the police regional director had earlier informed him of the developments in the case. (READ: Why were Marcos and team moved to CIDG 8?)

The following were released from the CIDG detention cell in Leyte:

On June 2, the Department of Justice downgraded charges in the Espinosa case, in response to a petition filed by the cops who argued that the elements of murder were not present in the operation that led to the death of Espinosa.

Marcos, his men, and some police from the local Maritime Group unit launched an operation on November 5, 2016, to serve a search warrant against Espinosa and another inmate inside the sub-provincial jail in Baybay City, Leyte.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), in its probe into the operation, initially said it was a “rubout.” It was the same conclusion of a Senate probe into the incident.

Espinosa was among the first local chief executives publicly named by President Rodrigo Duterte as having alleged ties to illegal drugs. He initially surrendered to Dela Rosa in Camp Crame, before eventually returning to Albuera where an arrest warrant against him was issued. 

He had a pending appeal to change his place of detention. His son, Kerwin, allegedly controlled the drug trade in Eastern Visayas. The younger Espinosa is currently under NBI custody.

Police in the Espinosa case have been accused of having ties to the illegal drug trade themselves, through the late mayor and his son. It was later revealed that Dela Rosa had wanted Marcos sacked over those alleged ties, but Duterte intervened because he was supposed to be doing his own investigation. (READ: Why Duterte won't leave CIDG 8 cops hanging)

Arguelles, the judge hearing the Espinosa slay case, is also facing an administrative probe for failing to act on an earlier request to move Espinosa’s place of detention.

Marcos and the rest of the 18 policemen will be required to report to the Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit in Camp Crame, Quezon City, as they await trial. – With reports from Jazmin Bonifacio / Rappler.com