MANILA – Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Eastern Visayas Regional Director, Police Supt. Marvin Marcos defended on Thursday his men’s operation to serve search warrants that led to the killing of Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. of Albuera, Leyte and inmate Raul Yap on Nov. 5.
During the Senate investigation in the killing of Espinosa and Yap, Senator Manny Pacquiao asked Marcos if he and the CIDG Region 8 operatives are protecting somebody.
”I’m not protecting anybody, Sir. We’re just doing our job as policemen. We believe in the campaign (against illegal drugs) of our President (Rodrigo Duterte),” Marcos said.
”The one killed by my men was not angel. He killed people. He was a drug lord. He ruined many lives and that’s why our fight against illegal drugs is continuous,” he added.
Marcos said he had a first-hand knowledge on how Espinosa terrorized the whole town of Albuera just to win the election.
”The Espinosas are drug lords. They kill people. They basically terrorize the whole town to win the mayorship of Albuera. I know that in first hand because I was the supervisor of Leyte during the election,” Marcos said.
Marcos said Espinosa’s brother, Ramon, has executed an affidavit claiming that the late Albuera mayor was not the one who made his own affidavit and the drug list.
Quoting Espinosa’s words to his brother Ramon, Marcos said: “The affidavit was ready-made and was prepared by someone else and I was asked to just affix my signature.”
”Ramon surmised that some police officials prepared the mayor’s affidavit,” Marcos said.
Marcos also told Pacquiao that he had never been involved in any illegal activities, much more in illegal drug since he served as policeman in 1996.
”Wala po akong illegal activities, even if you checked my service record. I dedicated my life in serving the nation. I have not received money from illegal drugs,” he said.
Marcos informed the Senate panel that Yap was part of the Espinosa drug group.
During the eight-hour Senate hearing, Leyte Provincial Jail Warden Homobono Bardillon told the senators that the Baybay Sub-Provincial Jail has working CCTV recordings before the CIDG served the search warrant for Espinosa and Yap.
Bardillon also denied reports that the CCTV hard drive is under repair.
CIDG Chief Inspector Leo Laraga, who led the raiding team, maintained they did not touch the CCTV camera nor the missing hard drive.
Laraga, however, confirmed reports that they ordered the jail guards and four provincial policemen tasked to secure Espinosa to kneel and face the wall.
Laraga also denied claims of the jail guards that they did not show the arrest warrants before they entered the cells of Espinosa and Yap using a bolt cutter.
He said the search warrant was issued through the information from a walk-in informant who claimed Espinosa and Yap were keeping firearms and illegal drugs inside their detention.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Deputy Chief for Operations Benjamin Magalong said that using a walk-informant as source of arrest warrant is not a standard practice.
Marcos explained they asked the provincial jail guards and policemen to lay down their arms and face the wall while kneeling for allegedly refusing to cooperate.
He also said Espinosa owned over 200 firearms and most of them were still unaccounted, prompting them to deploy an 18-man team, including Marcos, who served the warrant of arrest for Espinosa and Yap.
Laraga claimed that Espinosa was the one who fired at them, resulting in the firefight.
However, one of the six inmates detained with Espinosa in Cell 1 told the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) that he heard Espinosa begging for his life and appealed to Laraga’s team not to plant evidence because he was unarmed.
PNP Medical Legal chief Police Chief Supt. Benjamin Lara said Espinosa was shot four times while Yap, who was detained at Cell 7, sustained eight gunshot wounds.
According to the PNP Scene of the Crime Operations in Region 8, a super .38 caliber hand gun was discovered at the crime scene and that Espinosa’s hands contained gun powder residues. Yap’s hands had also gun powder residues for using a .45 caliber hand gun.
Meanwhile, Senator Grace Poe urged the authorities to provide additional protection for an inmate who witnessed the predawn operation.
”I think that the jail inmate was the once who stated that he heard that the mayor begged for his life. We should protect him,” Poe said.
In a media interview before leaving for two-day official visit in Malaysia last Wednesday, President Duterte said he is not puzzled by Espinosa’s death and that he will obey what the police tell him “because we’re working in the government.”
President Duterte also said he has no plan to find fault with the police who allegedly killed Espinosa.
”I will not go there to find fault with the police. I did not even agree that they should be transferred, at least not now. Because if I will do, no policemen will work already,” he said.
During the Senate hearing, Magalong confirmed that Marcos and the CIDG operatives involved in the Baybay jail raid have been relieved and transferred to the PNP Headquarters at Camp Crame in Quezon City. Jelly Musico/PNA-northboundasia.com