SENATOR Panfilo “Ping” Lacson described the Baybay jail operation as premeditated that killed Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. and another inmate inside their detention cell.
“There’s one word to describe this: premeditated,” said Lacson, a former police chief, who chairs the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs leading the probe on the Nov. 5 incident.
Lacson uncovered discrepancies between testimonies and recorded time logs during the raid as he noted that police who raided the cell of Espinosa called for Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) investigators even before the operation could begin.
The Senate initiated an inquiry noting how circumstances surrounding Espinosa’s slay indicate that it was an extrajudicial killing.
Lacson noted that Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Region 8 head Chief Supt. Marvin Marcos’ timeline showed that the team entered the jail through a bolt cutter at 4:30 a.m.
But PO2 Jennifer Monge of the Regional Tactical Operations Center logged in her record book that Supt. Santi Noel Matira, a member of the raiding team, called for a SOCO team at 3:49 a.m.
“Hindi pa kayo nakakapasok, nagre-request na kayo ng SOCO? Ina-anticipate n’yo ba na may papatayin kayo? Para kayong tumatawag ng punerarya, wala pang engkwentro,” Lacson told the police officers.
But Matira claimed that he called the SOCO only after shots were fired at the jail cell, where Espinosa and fellow inmate Raul Yap ended up dead.
Lacson then asked Director Benjamin Magalong, Philippine National Police deputy chief for operations, to seize Matira’s phone for forensic investigation of his call logs.
But Matira refused to hand his cellphone, citing his right to privacy and against self-incrimination.
Meanwhile, Magalong admitted that the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) violated the police operational procedures when it led a search inside the jail cell.
Speaking before the Senate inquiry on Espinosa’s death, Magalong said there were clear violations on the part of Marcos for failing to coordinate with the regional police and the Baybay City Sub-Provincial Jail before implementing the search warrant against Espinosa.
Asked by Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto if there were violations committed in carrying out the raid, Magalong answered: “Yes, (Marcos) should have coordinated and informed his commander at the same time all concerned units that have stake over the operations.”
Considering that the search would be against a high-profile target, Magalong said that based on police protocol, high-profile operations should be relayed to the leadership of the Eastern Visayas regional police and CIDG headquarters in Camp Crame even during the planning stage of the operation.
He added that Marcos’ team also violated instructions indicated in the search warrant. One of which was to have coordination with concerned units, including the Leyte provincial jail.
Leyte Provincial Jail warden Homobono Bardillon admitted that the CIDG operatives did not inform them ahead of the search last Saturday.
Meanwhile, Senator Grace Poe seeks additional protection for the inmate who witnessed the raid on the Leyte Sub-Provincial Jail that led to the death of Albuera Mayor Espinosa Sr. and another inmate last Nov. 5.
The call of Poe was made as she noted inconsistencies with the testimonies of the operating team inside the detention cell of Espinosa.
“There are a lot of inconsistencies with the testimonies of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG). It seems that 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,” said Poe.