MANILA –The twin-killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. and a fellow inmate inside their detention cells at the Leyte Sub-Provincial Jail in Baybay City last Nov. 5 was a “rubout,” according to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
NBI spokesperson Ferdinand Lavin on Tuesday said their parallel investigation, under the instruction of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, showed testimonial and forensic evidence that the actions of policemen, who served the search warrant on Espinosa in the wee hours of Nov. 5, “showed a community of purpose or an implied conspiracy.”
“We respect the findings of the police but this is the findings of the NBI and we stand by our findings. Naniniwala kaming merong criminal intent, merong pakay sila sa pagpatay kay mayor Rolando Espinosa at Raul Yap. There was community of purpose, there was mission in their action, there was conspiracy,” Lavin said during a press conference.
He said the forensic team did their best to recreate the crime scene but the forensic findings are consistent with the testimonial evidence.
He added that though forensics showed Espinosa’s hand positive for nitrate residue for gunpowder, it was also possible that someone put the gun in the victim’s hand and fired it.
“Pwedeng lagyan or pwedeng ipaputok. Theoretically, then it would have power nitrates yung ginamit na kamay. Merong material testimony na may pumasok na naka-gloves may dalang baril at paglabas wala ng dalang baril,” Lavin said though he added, witnesses failed to identify the man.
As to the trajectory of the shots, Lavin said there are strong indications that no shots were fired towards the direction of the door, which he explained would have happened if Espinosa fired shot at the raiding team as claimed by the CIDG operatives.
“If there was a shootout dapat ang putok ni Mayor Espinosa kung nagpaputok sya dapat papunta sa pintuan. If Mayor Espinosa has been there for quite some time, he knows the area and between the raiding team and the Mayor mas kabisado ni Mayor,” he noted.
The NBI spokesperson also said the close circuit television camera (CCTV) and its hard drive were also missing and the NBI team failed to recover it up to now though he added CCTV footages from a nearby establishment showed that the raiding team entered the jail facility at 3:05 a.m. and not 4:10 a.m. as testified by the CIDG during the Senate hearing.
Earlier, Aguirre said the parallel probe was to avoid a possible whitewash.
Aguirre said the NBI should step into the case since the operatives of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group were involved in the incident after Espinosa supposedly engaged them in a shootout while being served a search warrant inside his detention cell.
Another inmate identified as Raul Yap was also killed in the alleged shootout.
Meanwhile, the NBI filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ) multiple murder and perjury case against 24 members of the Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) Regional Office No. 08.
Facing raps for multiple murder are Superintendent Marvin Wynn Marcos, Superintendent Santi Noel Gaspang Matira, Chief Inspector Leo Daio Laraga, Senior Inspector (SI) Deogracia Pedong Diaz, SI Fritz Bioco Blanco, Senior Police Officer 4 Juanito Ampado Duarte, SPO4 Melvin Mendoza Caboyit, SPO4 Eric Palattao Constantino, SPO2 Benjamin Layague Dacallos, SPO2 Alphinor Milla Serrano, Jr., PO3 Johnny Abuda Ibanez, PO3 Norman Tiu Abellanosa, PO2 Niel Patrimonio Centino, PO1 Bernard Rodriguez Orpilla, PO3 Lloyd Ortinez Ortiguesa, PO1 Jerlan Sadia Cabiyaan, Cristal Jane Briones Gisma, Divine Grace Baclas Songalia, all assigned at CIDG Regional Office No. 08, Port Area, Tacloban City as well as PCINSP Calixto Cabardo Canillas, Jr., PINSP Lucresito Adana Candelosas, SPO2 Antonio Romangca Docil, SPO1 Mark Christian Castillo Cadilo, PO2 John Ruel Baldevia Doculan, and PO2 Jaime Pacuan Bacsal, all assigned at Regional Maritime Unit 8 Port Area, Tacloban City.
The NBI also recommended the filing of perjury charges against Chief Insp. Leo Diao Laraga, PO3 Norman T. Abellanosa and Paul Olendan for maliciously obtaining a search warrant.
The police has managed to enter the Baybay Jail on the basis of a search warrant issued by Tarcelo Sabarre Jr., executive judge of Regional Trial Court Branch 30 of Basey in Samar.
Investigation conducted by the NBI showed that the witness, which became the basis for the issuance of a search warrant lied in court.
Olendan, in his testimony said that last Oct. 28, he was inside the Baybay Jail and he saw Yap repacking shabu inside his cell while the Mayor was holding a firearm.
The NBI said Olendan who was a former inmate at the Abuyog penal colony allegedly lied to the court when he claimed seeing a handgun beside Espinosa’s pillow and that Yap was in possession of shabu.
Lavin said their parallel investigation showed that Olendan did not get inside or anywhere near the subprovincial jail in Baybay City since he was in Tacloban City, 130 kilometers away, working at the Leyte National High School.
“This was testified to by his co-workers kasi nag-biometric sya dun. Nag-testify ang assistant principal ng Leyte National High School that he was there the whole day. Nag-testify din mga co-workers nya and also the jail guards on duty at that time dun sa Baybay na hindi sya pumasok dun at wala sya dun sa logbook. We therefore, believed that the search warrant was a cover to legitimize the operation,’ Lavin said.
”From the pieces of evidence, the NBI concluded it is patently clear that the acts of the CIDG 8 operatives showed a community of purpose or an implied conspiracy. There was unison in their purpose and action, signifying that they were all moved by a single criminal intent. Furthermore, the NBI stressed, there is no indication that the police operatives who participated in the killing had desisted or those who acted as look outs had prevented the raiding team from shooting the victims,” the NBI said in its release statement. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA-northboundasia.com