Espinosa killing ‘premeditated’


    SENATORS are convinced the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa was “premeditated” because of the inconsistencies in the testimonies of the police officers involved in the predawn raid at the Leyte subprovincial jail on November 5.

    GRILLED Officials of the Philippine National Police take their oath prior to testifying before a joint inquiry into the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa, summoned on Thursday by the Senate committees on public order and human rights. PHOTO BY BOB DUNGO JR

    GRILLED Officials of the Philippine National Police take their oath prior to testifying before a joint inquiry into the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa, summoned on Thursday by the Senate committees on public order and human rights. PHOTO BY BOB DUNGO JR

    “There’s one word to describe this: premeditated,” said Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, in an inquiry on Thursday.

    Senators learned that the raiding team of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Eastern Visayas asked for scene of the crime operatives (SOCO) even before they arrived at the jail to serve a search warrant against Espinosa and another detainee, Raul Yap, who was also killed in the raid.

    Lacson cited discrepancies between the sequence of events presented by regional CIDG chief Supt. Marvin Marcos and the entries on the logbook of the Regional Tactical Operations Center that received the request for a SOCO team.

    Marcos told the committee the raiding team arrived at the front gate of the jail at 4:10 a.m.

    But the team managed to enter the premises only at around 4:30 a.m. using a bolt cutter to open the main gate, because jail guards refused to let them in, he said.

    Marcos said the SOCO arrived at the provincial jail at 5:58 a.m.

    Based on the affidavit of Police Officer 2 Jennifer Monge of the Regional Tactical Operations Center, however, she got a call from Supt. Santi Noel Matira, a member of the raiding team, requesting for a SOCO team at 3:49 a.m.

    Lacson asked Matira if he was the one who called for a SOCO team, and the latter responded on the affirmative.

    “Were you anticipating that you were going to kill someone?” Lacson asked.

    Marcos replied that the times indicated in his presentation were merely estimates.

    “Mali po `yung entry, estimated time lang po `yun [The entry was incorrect, that was only an estimate],” Matira told the committee.

    Forced to faced the wall

    Philippine National Police (PNP) Director for Operations Benjamin Magalong said the CIDG operatives also violated procedure after they failed to coordinate their operation with their superiors and other units concerned.

    Magalong made the statement in response to the query of Senate Minority Floor Leader Ralph Recto.

    Marcos and the head of the raiding team, Chief Insp. Leo Laraga, admitted that they did not make any effort to coordinate with other units and even their superiors because they did not want their plan to “leak.”

    “They violated the rule. They should have coordinated and informed their commanders and other concerned units with a stake in the operation, especially the jail warden,” Magalong said.

    Magalong also said the CIDG team failed to follow proper procedure in dealing with supposed “uncooperative” jail guards who were disarmed and ordered to face the wall.

    Such procedure is only done when dealing with criminals and not “friendlies” like the jail guards, he said.


    Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd was also convinced the killing of Espinosa was planned and there was a need to find out who was responsible for it.

    “All the signs point to that (premeditated killing). But one thing I want to find out is who is behind the killing,” Sotto said.

    Senator Grace Poe said the testimonies of the CIDG men indicated that they had other plans aside from serving the warrant.

    “It seems they had planned for this encounter way in advance to go through the trouble of applying for a warrant when in fact the mayor was already locked up in a government facility,” Poe added.

    The same point was stressed by Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao.

    Affidavit affected

    Lacson admitted that the death of Espinosa diminished the value of his sworn statement revealing the names of government officials allegedly protecting the illegal drug trade.

    He called for the immediate repatriation from the United Arab Emirates of Kerwin Espinosa, son of the slain mayor, who also has the names of those who had benefited from illegal drug operations.

    “I’m telling you, there are people who are currently in touch with him as he awaits his repatriation back to the Philippines,” Lacson said.

    These individuals, he said, included recipients of campaign contributions in the recent national and local elections.

    Richard Gomez linked

    Actor-turned-mayor of Ormoc City Richard Gomez was named by the CIDG’s Laraga as among those allegedly involved in the illegal drug operation of the Espinosas in Leyte province.

    Laraga told lawmakers the supposed involvement of some local officials and police in Leyte in illegal drugs was the reason they chose to secure the search warrant on Espinosa and Yap in Samar province.

    Pressed by Sotto, Laraga identified them as the mayor of Baybay City, the governor of Leyte, the mayor of Ormoc City and the congressman of the third district of Leyte.

    Laraga said it was Albuera police chief Jovie Espenido who mentioned the names of the personalities during a case conference. The information, he added, came from the late Mayor Espinosa himself.

    Aside from Gomez, Laraga also mentioned the names of Baybay Vice Mayor Mike Cari, Leyte Rep. Vicente “Ching” Veloso, a former appellate court justice and Leyte Governor Leopoldo Petilla.

    Gomez’s wife, Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez, told an entertainment news website the allegations were “offensive, baseless, and untrue.”

    Leila, too

    Also allegedly involved in the drug trade was Sen. Leila de Lima, said Espenido, who claimed de Lima had received P8 million from Kerwin Espinosa.

    Espenido told the committee he got the information from the late mayor.

    The money was allegedly given to the senator, a former Justice secretary, in a restaurant owned by singer Claire de la Fuente.

    De Lima, who was present when Espenido was giving his testimony, allowed the police officer to proceed.

    The senator said she didn’t mind that her name was mentioned, as she was aware that her name was included in the tell-all affidavit of the late mayor as earlier claimed by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd.

    Espenido admitted the information on de Lima was hearsay.


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    1. Benzirach Cruz on

      We, may want to know if the investigating authorities have subjected all the member of the raiding team to drug test immediately after the crime was committed. I have a suspicion that there are, if not all, members of the team who were under the influence of iilegal drugs during the entire operation.

    2. Gen Bato should be sacked. This is what happens if u appoint unqualified people to head the PNP. One star to 4 star? How typically Filipino.

    3. peter gonzales on

      All 19 cops involved in the premeditated assassination of the mayor should be fired from their job and charged with murder in the first degree. Their superior officers should also be held liable under the principle of command responsibility. The glaring lies, cover up and inconsistencies in their testimonies smack of disrespect to the institution of the senate and to each member senator. Even the judge who issued the warrant is corrupt and be meted out the corresponding punishment.

    4. As a Canadian born person who has been to the Philippines many times since 1981. I have spent a year there and started a business there as well.
      We view your death squad ways with contempt.
      Your voters are weak minded people with a penchant for a quick fix.
      That is why you vote in Movie Stars and Killers to solve your problems.
      Your country is now the laughing stock of the world.
      I have cancelled any future plans to visit your Country. I really don’t think you will ever learn.

    5. Everything had already said against our police force. Sir lacson may I suggest should anybody be looking at the structure of the PNPA to were majority of our police officer coming form. As far as I know some cadets on the said institution was fostered by individuals who have personal interest. It’s kind a investment.

    6. Everything had already said against our police force. Sir lacson may I suggest should anybody be looking at the structure of the PNPA to were majority of our police officer coming form. As far as I know some cadets on the said institution was rostered by individuals who have personal interest. It’s kind a investment.

    7. Is this what all the branches of the government can accomplish?

      Hopeless if we continue to allow this.

    8. DU30 already made a public statement that he is siding with the police zarsuela. So what is the use of the Senate hearing? The new dictator has spoken, only God can help the Philippines. He already decreed that the original dictator is a hero. What else can he not do?

    9. It looks like the reappearance of Davao death squad, in guise of CIDG. designed like the nazi Germany Gestapo, They can even lie on right on the faces of the “overpaid” senators, but the backer of this squad is the head honcho of the Government, their protector. this is the danger when our police protector are corrupted. PNP should have cleaned up their backyard. Just imagine before the start of this drug war, 50% of the PNP are corrupt, according to survey. So this group will kill humans at will, or upon command by their higher ups. What a sad story.

    10. The CIDG raiding team knew that a senate hearing will be conducted regarding the murder of Espinosa. They risked their future, their family future and lost of their job. There is a person that assured them protection and financial gain. This guy has the highest position in government that is why these polïce was confident that they are going to be well conpensated. They are not stupid” in the hearing, I saw CIDG police that are belligerent , arrogant while being interviewed. They are born killers and assassins. I will assure these police 100 percent that even if they might get away with murder, their soul ànd spirit will be toasted in Hell. This I personally guarantee. I know my God.

    11. The death of Espinosa, who was killed by the CIDG inside his prison, was I believed what Senator Lacson said, premeditated act. How could mayor Espinosa begin to think to fight with Police who were trained for any kind of fights that would face them? And besides Mayor Espinosa was inside his prison cell, how could he begin to think of fighting and winning it to the most trained shooting-fighters? He would have rather begun to think of his death if would have been thinking of fighting to the CIDG or fighting back to CIDG. He could have told that he surrendered, had he not been killed helplessly. He could have told us that he had no gun inside the prison cell but many beneficiaries of his illegal drug business instead, had he not been shot to order by someone or for someone.

    12. Here’s a thought.

      Have the Dept of Justice do their jobs and lock up everyone involved that violated procedures and hold them without bail for the murder.


      Do the usual and have the senate make a bunch of noise and accomplish nothing. Not like we haven’t seen this senate clown show many times waste everyone’s time pretending to be investigators.

    13. Did anybody ever asked why a search warrant was needed to search the cell where Espinosa was imprisoned? Is this not a prison and all of its premises can be searched without a warrant? What kind of policing procedures are these? Pulis patola? Do you expect that the people accept this zarsuela of a raid? And where is Gen. Bato? Does he have control over the PNP?