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DoJ welcomes SC probe on Espinosa warrants

Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II welcomed the move of the Supreme Court (SC) to investigate two trial court judges who issued search warrants and reportedly caused the delay on the plea for the detention transfer of slain Albuera town Mayor Rolando Espinosa, Sr.

In a resolution issued last Friday, the SC directed the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) to determine the necessity for and circumstances surrounding the issuance of a search warrant or search warrants directed against persons already in custody in a government detention facility.

It also included the existence of any compelling reasons by the RTC Branch 30 in Basey, Samar to entertain the application of the search warrant/s under Section 2, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure.

“There are two schools of thought. One is that Mayor Espinosa was already in a controlled environment so there was no need for such search warrant anymore,” said Aguirre. “The other one is that the issuance of the warrant in such a case could still be justified especially in cases where in some jail authorities are in cahoots with inmates.”

Being investigated by the SC are regional trial court (RTC) Judges Carlos Arguelles of the Baybay City and Tarcelo Sabarre Jr. of Basey, Samar.

Arguelles handles the illegal drugs and possession of firearms cases against Espinosa, while Sabarre issued the search warrants against Espinosa and another inmate, Raul Yap, who were both killed during a supposed raid by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Region 8 inside the Leyte sub-provincial last November 5 in Baybay City.

Meantime, Aguirre II said the recent probe by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on the death of Espinosa will pursue all angles, including the possibility that murder was committed.

Aguirre said there was nothing wrong in the NBI probe despite President Duterte’s pronouncement siding with the team of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) involved in the incident.

It was the CIDG’s version that its men killed Espinosa because he tried to shoot them while serving a search warrant inside his jail.

“That is the personal feeling of the President. But as head of the Department of Justice (DoJ), which has the NBI as its attached agency, I think it’s just appropriate for me to order the parallel investigation,” Aguirre said.