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DoJ forms panel to probe cops in Espinosa’s death

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has formed a panel of prosecutors who will conduct the preliminary investigation on members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) involved in the death of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.

Aguirre created the panel after the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) recommended to the Department of Justice (DoJ) the prosecution of PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Region 8 chief Superintendent Marvin Marcos and 23 other policemen based on its findings that Espinosa was killed in a rubout.

Based on a department order dated December 7, the panel is composed of Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Lilian Doris Alejo who will sit as the chairperson; Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Olivia Torrevillas; Assistant State Prosecutors Jinky Dedumo and Karla Cabel and Prosecuting Attorney Moises Acayan.

Aguirre instructed the panel “if the evidence warrants, file the appropriate information in the court of competent jurisdiction to prosecute the same.”

“The panel is also directed to consolidate the investigation of the cases recommended by the NBI and is further directed to expedite the issuance of subpoenas to all respondents and proceed with the preliminary investigation,” he said.

After conducting its investigation on the death of Espinosa, the NBI recommended the prosecution of the 24 policemen from CIDG Region 8 and the PNP Regional Maritime Unit 8 for multiple murder.

Apart from Marcos, those facing multiple murder charges are Superintendent Noel Matira, Chief Inspector Leo Laraga, Senior Inspectors Deogracia Diaz and Fritz Blanco, Senior Police Officers Melvin Cayobit, Eric Constantino, Benjamin Dacallos, Juanito Duarte, and Alphinor Serrano Jr., police officers Johnny Ibanez, Norman Abellanosa, Niel Centino, Bernard Orpilla, Lloyd Ortiguesa, Jerlan Cabiyaan, Cristal Gisma and Divine Grace Songalia.

Also facing the same charges are PNP Regional Maritime Unit 8 personnel Chief Inspector Calixto Canillas Jr., Inspector Lucresito Candelosas, and police officers Antonio Docil, Mark Cadilo, John Ruel Daculan, and Jaime Bacsal.

The NBI also recommended the filing of perjury charges against Laraga, Abellanosa, and Paul Olenadan for allegedly lying under oath during court proceedings for the issuance of a search warrant against Espinosa.

Aguirre said the DoJ will push through with the prosecution of the policemen in Espinosa killing despite President Duterte’s announcement that he will not allow the policemen involved to go to prison.

“It will not affect. We will continue with our preliminary investigation,” assured Aguirre.

Despite the President’s statements, Aguirre insisted that Duterte has not committed an impeachable offense under the law contrary to the claims of one of his foremost critics, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. (JEFFREY DAMICOG)

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