THE Manila trial judge hearing charges against self-confessed drug trader Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr. on Friday ordered Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa to summarily dismiss police officers who failed to attend a court hearing.
“I am ordering Chief PNP Bato to start the summary dismissal of these police officers for failure to attend today’s pre-trial hearing despite having properly notified them. They have 72 hours to explain why they should not be cited for contempt and why we should not file obstruction of justice charges,” said Judge Silvino Pampilo Jr. of Branch 26 of the Manila Regional Trial Court.
The judge was referring to Chief Inspectors Jovie Espenido and Elo Diao Laraga, Police Officer 3 Neil Radin, and Police Officers 1 Winefredo Guiron, Jessie Parto and Mark Alvin. Also subpoenaed were Marcelo Adorco and Jose Antepuesto, who likewise did not attend the hearing.
“The Supreme Court has ordered this court to decide on these cases with dispatch,” said Pampilo.
Although Espinosa was present, his two lawyers, who are based in Leyte, failed to appear before the court on Friday. Lawyers John Ungab and Leilani Trinidad Villarino were also ordered to explain in 72 hours why they missed the hearing.
Prosecutor Marcelo Adolfo said Ungab was not able to book a flight because of the Asean summit while Villarino had just been released from a hospital.
Espinosa, in a chance interview, said he had no plans to replace his lawyers.
The hearing was supposed to mark the pieces of evidence and names of witnesses to be presented by both the prosecution and the defense.
Pampilo said three separate cases were being heard in his sala, with the same prosecution and defense lawyers.
One case is about drug trading and distribution in violation of Section 5 of Republic Act (RA) 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs. Another is a case for violation of Section 11, Article II of RA 9165, and the third involves illegal possession of firearms.
The next hearing was set on December 8.