THE National Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday stood by its recommendation to file murder charges against the 19 policemen accused of killing Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.
“We stand by our recommendation for murder [against the accused], NBI Director Dante Gierran told a Senate inquiry.
He made the statement even as Police Chief Ronald Dela Rosa suggested that President Rodrigo Duterte prodded him to reinstate Supt. Marvin Marcos while a Justice Department official said he downgraded the murder case to homicide although he did not know the case’s details.
Marcos, then chief of the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Region 8, was among the 19 policemen charged for the killing of Espinosa Sr. and Raul Yap, another drug suspect, while inside the Baybay sub-provincial jail in Leyte.
Under questioning by Senators Bam Aquino and Grace Poe, Dela Rosa said Duterte had repeatedly told him to bring back Marcos and his men to active service.
“The President always intimated to me that I should let them work because government funds are being wasted,” Dela Rosa told senators during a joint hearing of the Senate committees on public order and dangerous drugs and justice and human rights led by Senators Panfilo Lacson and Richard Gordon, respectively.
The NBI said in an earlier statement that it had submitted its findings to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II deeming the death of Espinosa as a “rubout” and “not a shootout” as claimed by the police raiding team.
“After conducting an exhaustive investigation of the incidents surrounding the killing of Mayor Espinosa and Yap, the NBI concluded that the testimonies of several witnesses had disputed the claim of an alleged shootout between the CIDG Operatives and Inmates Mayor Espinosa and Raul Yap but a rubout,” the NBI said.
The Senate on Wednesday opened an inquiry into the reinstatement of Marcos and 18 other policemen linked to Espinosa’s killing in 2016.
Marcos and 18 of his men were reinstated after the Department of Justice downgraded the charges against them to homicide from murder.
Among the resource persons invited to the probe were Dela Rosa, Aguirre and other PNP officials.
Aguirre was invited but failed to attend the hearing due to a previous appointment held out of town.
Aguirre earlier said the charges against Marcos and his men were downgraded to a bailable offense because of the absence of evident premeditation.
Marcos, after serving his suspension and posting bail for his homicide case, was named head of CIDG-12.
Senator Panfilo Lacson earlier expressed disgust over the reinstatement of the cops linked to the slay, saying it disregarded a conspiracy angle that authorities had long been probing.
“This effectively disregarded the conspiracy angle. In sum, there is a phrase to describe this whole damn thing: Put*ng I*a!” Lacson said.
Dela Rosa earlier said that Marcos and 18 others were under the custody of CIDG-8 in Leyte.
On March 16, Judge Carlos Arguelles of the Regional Trial Court Branch 14 in Baybay City, Leyte, issued arrest warrants against Marcos and the other policemen.
The suspects surrendered to the CIDG-8 office that Marcos formerly headed.
The NBI earlier filed multiple murder charges against the accused in connection with the Nov. 5 police killing of Espinosa.
Senators have described Espinosa’s killing as “premeditated” based on the suspicious manner by which the CIDG team carried out the raid.
Senators who held a congressional investigation on the killing of Espinosa later learned that both Mayor Espinosa and his son Kerwin named Marcos and two of his men as being on his payroll.
Espinosa and Yap were killed in the police operation after police claimed the men fired back at them.
The NBI also recommended perjury charges against the group’s informant, Paul Olendan, whose affidavit was the basis of a search warrant against Espinosa.