A TOP-RANKING official of the Philippine National Police told a Senate investigation Thursday that the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Region 8 violated procedure by not coordinating their raid that killed Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa in his jail cell with their superiors or provincial jail officials.
Testifying before the joint investigation of the Senate committees on public order and illegal drugs and justice and human rights, Director Benjamin Magalong, PNP operations chief, said the CIDG raiding team had violated standard procedures.
PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa ordered the relief of 24 policemen who were involved in the operation that killed Espinosa and another inmate, Raul Yap, in a dawn raid on Nov. 5.
“After being appraised of the initial results of the investigation… I have directed Police Director Fernando Mendez Jr. of the Directorate for Personnel and Records Management to immediately issue the order for the relief of 18 other Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit 8 (CIDU 8) and six Regional Maritime Unit 8 (RMU 8) personnel involved in operation effective immediately,” said Dela Rosa.
Dela Rosa, who is in Malaysia with President Rodrigo Duterte, failed to attend the Senate hearing, but said adequate protection has been given the slain mayor’s son, Kerwin, who is alleged to be the biggest drug lord in the Visayas.
Magalong said he came to the conclusion that there were violations during the raid after he discussed the incident with Supt. Marvin Marcos, Region 8 chief.
Responding to a query from Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto, Marcos and Chief Insp. Leo Laraga, head of the raiding team, admit they did not report the plan to serve search warrants on Espinosa and Yap to their superiors.
They told Recto they did not coordinate with provincial prison officials because they wanted to avoid a leak.
But Magalong said they should have coordinated with their commanders, and “especially the jail warden.”
Laraga admitted that they disarmed the jail guards because they were “uncooperative.”
Then members of the team ordered the guards to kneel and face the wall while the operation was going on.
Magalong said this procedure was only for “dealing with criminals, not for friendlies.”
“That was wrong,” he said in Filipino.
Ordered relieved and reassigned to the Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit in Camp Crame were:
Supt. Marvin Marcos, former CIDG 8 chief; Supt. Santi Noel Matira; Chief Insp. Leo Laraga, team leader during the operation; Senior Insp. Deogracias Diaz; Senior Insp. Eric Constantino; Senior Insp. Fritz Blanco; SPO4 Melvin Cayobit; SPO4 Juanito Duarte; SPO2 Alphinor Serrano Jr.; SPO1 Benjamin Dacallos; PO3 Johnny Ibañez; PO3 Norman Abellanosa; PO2 Neil Centino; PO1 Lloyd Ortigueza; PO1 Bhernard Orpilla; PO1 Kristal Jane Gisma; PO1 Kerlan Cabiyaan; and PO1 Divine Grace Songalia, all with CIDG 8.
Also relieved from the Maritime Unit were: Chief Insp. Calixto Canillas Jr.; Insp. Lucresito Candilosas; SPO2 Antonio Docil; SPO1 Mark Christian Cadilo; PO2 John Ruel Doculan; and PO2 Jaime Bacsal.