Press Release
June 20, 2017

Drilon hits Aguirre for downgrading charges vs suspects in Espinosa slay

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon, a former justice secretary, slammed Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre's decision to downgrade charges against the policemen involved in the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., calling it "anomalous and suspicious."

"The abrupt downgrading of the case against Supt. Marvin Marcos and his cohorts from murder to homicide is a big blow to the justice system in the country," Drilon said.

"This is a very disappointing development insofar as the ability of the government to prevent and prosecute police abuses and irregularities is concerned," he stressed.

The minority leader said the decision is an "insult to the Senate," which conducted a thorough investigation on the killing of Espinosa and recommended the filing of murder charges against the policemen led by Marcos.

He pointed out that during the Senate investigation, Aguirre said that the killing of Espinosa would qualify as a "premeditated killing."

The former justice secretary said that under the law, premeditation qualifies a killing to murder.

"Secretary Aguirre told us under oath here in the Senate that he himself considers the killing as premeditated. He even pointed out that the conduct of Espinosa's arrest was not consistent with the PNP's procedures," he said.

In particular, Aguirre said it was "unusual" that a warrant was obtained belatedly or one week after receiving information that there was a weapon inside Espinosa's cell and that the warrant was served at 4:30 in the morning. Aguirre said that if the police had nothing to hide, the search would usually be conducted during daytime.

Drilon recalled that Aguirre even labeled the operation as an "overkill" considering that 19 policemen served the search warrant for a single weapon at a provincial jail when only three or four persons could have done the job.

"It begs now the question: Why did the DOJ suddenly reverse its earlier decision,which was supported by ample evidence? Why not allow the court to determine if it's murder or homicide?" Drilon asked.

He added the action would only "fuel speculations and fears of a growing police impunity in the country."

He thus urged the Senate to make a stand and condemn the action by the DOJ.

"I agree with Senator Lacson that the Senate should denounce this maneuvering of the DOJ. Otherwise, no one would believe any investigation that the Senate will be conducting in the future," Drilon concluded.

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