PNP begins probe into Albuera mayor’s death; violators of SOP in serving search warrants face sanctions

MANILA, Philippines — Police personnel who fail to observe the standard operational procedure (SOP) in serving search warrants would face sanctions, the Philippine National Police (PNP) assured on Monday.

PNP Deputy Director General Francisco Uyami, Jr. made the assurance in the wake of reports that police serving search warrants against slain Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa at the Leyte sub-provincial jail in Baybay town last Saturday failed to observe the SOP.

“The PNP assures the public that necessary sanctions will be charged on any personnel who will be found violating the standard operational procedure during the serving of search warrants,” Uyami said in a press conference at the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame.

The PNP has started a probe into the incident involving the personnel of the Criminal Investigative and Detection Group (CIDG) led by Chief Insp. Leo Laraga who allegedly figured in an armed engagement with Espinosa and another another inmate, Raul Yap.

Both Espinosa and Yap succumbed to gunshot wounds.

Reports reaching the PNP National Headquarters showed that during the search in the detention cell of Espinosa, a small heat-sealed sachet containing “shabu” was found while police recovered 10 big heat-sealed sachets containing “shabu”, 27 big heat-sealed sachets containing dried marijuana and assorted drug paraphernalia in the cell of Yap.

The Scene of the Crime Operation (SOCO) Team were also able to recover one caliber Super .38 pistol in the cell of Espinosa and another caliber .45 colt commander in the cell of Yap.

The search was ordered by Basey, Samar, Regional Trial Court Branch 30 Presiding Judge Tarcelo Sabarre, who issued separate search warrants for alleged violation of Republic Act No. 10591, or the “Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act”, against Espinosa and alleged violation of RA 9165, or the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002”, against Yap.

Uyami said Police Regional Office 8 (PRO 8) Chief Supt. Elmer Beltejar has constituted a panel that would look into the incident while Regional Internal Affairs Service 8 would also conduct its own probe. Perfecto Raymundo, Jr/