PALMA WANTS ANSWERS
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma has joined the growing call for an impartial investigation into the death of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. which a number of senators have described to be a premeditated killing by a group of policemen.
According to Palma, Espinosa’s death should be investigated because the manner with which he died raised more questions than answers.
“Para nako, angay lang nga ang ingon ani nga kamatayon imbestigahan kay dili man kita malipay nga mao kini nga pamaagi,” he said. “Matud pa, kamatayon nga daghang mga questions ug ang mga tubag dili makahatag og pagkakontento.”
(For me, it is only proper that a death like that should be investigated because we cannot be pleased with the way that it was done. It was a death that raised more questions and the answers were all unsatisfactory.)
The death of Espinosa had led many to speculate that he was silenced after naming in his affidavit at least 200 persons — politicians, policemen and even media practitioners — who allegedly received protection money from his son Kerwin, tagged as the biggest drug lord in Eastern Visayas.
Espinosa, a Cebuano originally from Barangay Hipodromo, Cebu City who had relocated to Albuera, was shot dead while detained at the sub-provincial jail in Baybay City, Leyte at dawn on Nov. 5 after he allegedly tried to shoot it out with elements from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Eastern Visayas (CIDG-8) who were serving a warrant to search his cell for illegal drugs and firearms.
But several prison witnesses had attested before Camp Crame investigators that the mayor did not have any firearm when shot four times by the policemen.
Palma said he welcomed the investigation conducted by the Senate because he believed that Espinosa, even granting that he was engaged in the illegal drugs trade, did not have to die in such a suspicious manner.
“So let the Senate investigate aron bisan pa, matud pa man, nag-angkon sila sa ilang mga sayop, may right gihapon sila nga respetohon ang ilang kinabuhi kung mao man gyud ang nahitabo kay Mayor Espinosa,” he said.
(So let the Senate investigate because even if they admitted to have sinned, they still have the right to have their lives respected, if that indeed what happened to Mayor Espinosa.)
The joint investigation into Espinosa’s death is being conducted by the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon, and the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, headed by Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
In the course of the hearing, both Lacson and Gordon opined that the killing was premeditated.
They particularly zeroed in on the finding that the CIDG-8 raiders called for the Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco) even before they entered the jail and engaged Espinosa in a supposed firefight. To the senators, this seemed like the policemen were already anticipating that they would kill someone even before they stormed Espinosa’s cell.
Gordon, while in a visit in Cebu Saturday, went further by saying that it was an assassination meant to silence Espinosa, to stop the latter from revealing more personalities linked to the drug syndicate headed by his son.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, who was also in Cebu last Thursday, has also ordered a separate investigation by the office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices (Moleo) into the killing because of the gravity of the accusations raised against the CIDG policemen involved in the Espinosa case.
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