DOJ eyes complaint vs Samar judge in Espinosa slay

Lian Buan

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

DOJ eyes complaint vs Samar judge in Espinosa slay
But the DOJ dismisses allegations that policemen planted evidence in jail

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) recommended the filing of an administrative complaint against Judge Tarcelo Sabare of Basey, Samar Regional Trial Court Branch 30 for issuing a search warrant against the late Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr even though he was already in jail.

The DOJ panel released its findings on Espinosa’s killing on Monday, March 20, where it also recommended the filing of murder charges against Superintendent Marvin Marcos of Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Region 8 and members of his team.

Arrest warrants have been issued against Marcos and the other policemen.

Espinosa was gunned down inside the Leyte Sub-Provincial Jail while the CIDG personnel were serving the search warrant, which was supposedly for firearms and illegal drugs hidden in the mayor’s detention cell.

According to the DOJ, the search warrant was maliciously obtained.

“Leyte provincial jail is a government detention facility. As personnel of NLCIDG 8, respondents have ready access to the said jail facility by merely coordinating the alleged search with the responsible jail administrator,” part of the DOJ’s resolution reads.

‘Highly irregular’

Prosecutors called Sabare’s issuance of search warrants “highly irregular, unnecessary and unprocedural.”

“There were no unjustifiable grounds to support the extreme urgency to implement the search at cell nos. 1 and 7 at around 3 am of November 5,” the resolution said.

The DOJ said the search warrant only shows that the killing was premeditated.

“The records will show that respondents craftily executed the killings under the pretense of implementing a search warrant. They planned to kill Mayor Espinosa and Mr Yap during the pre-operation meeting before the raid,” the resolution said.

Two counts of violation of Article 29 of the Revised Penal Code on maliciously obtained warrants were also recommended against Chief Inspector Leo Laraga, PO3 Norman Abellanosa, and inmate Paul Olendan, whose tip became the basis for requesting the search warrant.

The DOJ also recommended the filing of perjury charges against Olendan for lying in his deposition that he met Espinosa inside the Leyte Sub-Provincial Jail on October 28, 2016. Witnesses attested Olendan was not at the jail on that date. (READ: NBI: Mayor Espinosa’s death a ‘rubout’)

Difference from Senate findings

Although it found probable cause to file murder charges against policemen of CIDG-8, the DOJ did not tag the cops in a drug cover-up, unlike what the Senate suggested in its earlier report.

In their report released on March 13, the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs as well as committee on justice and human rights said that the police planned Espinosa’s killing to hide their own supposed ties to the drug trade in Eastern Visayas.

The DOJ, in fact, dismissed charges of planting of evidence, calling the allegations of the National Bureau of Investigation-Eastern Visayas Regional Office (NBI-EVRO) “self-serving.”

The Senate committees raised the possibility of planted evidence, citing testimonies that no drugs or firearms were retrieved during an earlier sweep of the jail.

NBI-EVRO also presented affidavits of two inmates who said they overheard Espinosa begging police not to plant a gun inside his jail.

The DOJ, however, said that “there is nothing on record that would support this charge against respondents.”

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier shrugged off the Senate report.

“I do not care even if there are a thousand committees, I will insist on the truthfulness of the police. I will defend [them] basta ‘wag lang ‘yung abuso (as long as they don’t commit abuses),” Duterte said in a press conference last March 13.

Duterte had previously ordered Marcos’ reinstatement even after he was sacked by Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa due to suspected drug links. –

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.