MANILA, Philippines — The family of slain Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. is dismayed over President Rodrigo Duterte’s determination to clear the policemen who killed the local executive in jail late last year.
At the same time, lawyer Lanie Villarosa, a member of the Espinosas’ legal team, said they are still contesting the Department of Justice’s downgrading to homicide of the murder charges filed against Superintendent Marvin Marcos and other personnel of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Region 8 for the deaths of Espinosa and Raul Yap, a fellow inmate at the Baybay City Sub-Provincial Jail.
Villarosa said they are prepared to take their appeal against the downgrading all the way to the Supreme Court.
Even before the DOJ granted in late May the accused policemen’s appeal to overturn the murder indictment against them, Duterte had already repeatedly said he believed the CIDG8’s claim that Espinosa and Yap were killed when they opted to shoot it out against the officers serving a search warrant on them and vowed that none of them would be jailed even if convicted.
Speaking at the 26th anniversary of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology on Wednesday, Duterte said he wanted to see Marcos, who is still under suspension, reinstated to active duty and again reiterated his promise that no military or police personnel would be jailed for doing their jobs.
Duterte’s stance on the Espinosa killing is among the reasons why human rights experts say he should be held accountable for the thousands of killings that have marked his administration’s war on drugs.
Despite their disappointment over Duterte’s pronouncements, the Espinosas are also resigned to Marcos’ return to active duty because he and the other police officers also appear headed to be cleared by the Internal Affairs Service.
The Espinosas’ legal team is now preparing for the first hearing of the case filed against the late mayor’s son Kerwin, who is allegedly among the top drug lords in the Visayas.