The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday kicked off its preliminary investigation of criminal complaints against members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) who were charged in the slay of Albuera (Leyte) Mayor Rolando Espinosa and fellow inmate Raul Yap in November.
Those who appeared at the probe were led by Supt. Marvin Marcos, former chief of the Philippine National Police–Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Region 8 (PNP-CIDG 8).
They all face multiple murder, robbery, malicious procurement of search warrant and perjury charges.
The complaint was filed by Leilani Villarino, Espinosa’s lawyer, and Edgardo Cordeno, a lawyer and Leyte provincial administrator, through the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
The PNP officers received a scolding from a DOJ panel headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor (SASP) Lilian Doris Alejo after the police officers sought a closed-door hearing.
Reporters from the Justice beat, along with their crew, were initially barred by police escorts of the CIDG team from covering the hearing.
Alejo, however, reprimanded the policemen and allowed the media to cover the proceedings.
“We remind members of the PNP that this is the DOJ, not the PNP. Please take orders from authorities of the DOJ,” she said during the hearing.
The other members of the DOJ panel are SASP Olivia Torrevillas, Assistant State Prosecutor Jinky Dedumo, ASP Karla Cabel and Prosecution Attorney Moises Acayan.
Fourteen of the accused policemen present were not represented by lawyers, leading the panel of prosecutors to extend the filing of their respective counter-affidavits from January 8 to January 23.
The panel has set the next hearing for January 23, 2017 at 10 a.m.
“If you cannot secure the services of lawyers, the panel will allow you to write down your defense in a yellow pad paper, either in English or Filipino, and subscribe it before us. Do not worry, we will be fair, we will not be influenced by anybody,” Alejo said.
Police Officer 2 Niel Patrimonio Centino and Paul Olendan, a former inmate and the witness of the police in their application for search warrants for the cells of Espinosa and Yap, who was also killed in the police operation, did not appear at the hearing.
The warrant for Espinosa covered his alleged possession of firearms, while the warrant for Yap was for alleged possession of prohibited drugs.