From the way the bullets entered Espinosa’s body, two possible conclusions may be derived from the fact, said Police Chief Inspector Benjamin Lara. One is that Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa may have been standing up when shot at by the CIDG-8 operatives, or he may have been lying down.
According to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) medico-legal officer, Mayor Espinosa took four bullets—two in his chest and two in his abdominal area. From earlier reports, Espinosa was also said to have suffered a head wound.
On Thursday, during the Senate inquiry into the death of Espinosa, Lara has this to say:
“In this case your honor, there are two possible positions for the victim and the assailant. One the victim could be in a vertical position, if he was standing and the assailant or the tip of the barrel of the gun was at a point lower than the point of entry of the body of the victim, this would mean that the victim was on an elevated position relative to the assailant. Or it could also be that the assailant was standing and the victim was lying down.”
Some senators say the CIDG-8 team that served the warrant on Espinosa and allegedly engaged him in a shootout which resulted to his death had conflicting testimonies. For one, the timing of the alleged shootout and the call made to the Scene of the Crime Operatives or SOCO were questionable.
SOCO Notified Before the Raid
CIDG said the SOCO was called in to the scene at 3:49 am to inspect a crime or shooting incident. Normally, the SOCO is called in only after a crime is committed. SOCO operatives go to the crime scene to secure it and gather evidence.
But in the Espinosa killing that happened at the Baybay City Provincial Jail, Leyte, it was different. The call to the SOCO happened first and the killing followed later. Records show that the CIDG-8 operatives entered the jail premises at 4:30 am.
For Senator Panfilo Lacson, chair of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs—and himself once the PNP chief from 1999 to 2001—it was all highly questionable and suspicious. In fact, he said everything was pre-meditated.
“Bakit nagre-request na kayo ng SOCO kahit hindi pa kayo nakakapasok? Ina-anticipate ninyo ba na may papatayin kayo?” Lacson asked the CIDG personnel during the Senate inquiry. [Why were you requesting for SOCO even if you were not yet inside (the jail)? Were you anticipating to kill someone?]
Finally, Lacson had one word to describe the whole thing: “Premeditated.”
Even Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, was positive about how, “Talagang bistado yung mga pulis eh, talagang ito ay extra-judicial killing,” he said during a media interview. [These cops are really caught red-handed. This is really extrajudicial killing].
But what shocked Lacson was the alarming confidence in the behavior of the accused cops during the Senate hearing. Such confidence derived probably from their assurance of impunity, being assured by President Duterte that he will back them up no matter what, Lacson opined.
“They did it with impunity,” he said in an interview with ABS-CBN News on Monday. “I was watching the demeanor of Supt. Marcos, Chief Inspector Laraga and the two others … and I could see from their demeanor, masyadong confident, [they were too confident]” he noted.
“Parang they were already anticipating that the President would back them up. And that’s a bad sign,” Lacson warned. “Considering the blatant execution tapos ganun yung actuation [Considering the blatant execution of the crime and then they act so confidently like that] – it’s bothersome,” the senator said.