THE Department of Justice (DOJ) said there is no "direct" evidence that will prove that the Eastern Visayas Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) policemen planned the killing of Albuera, Leyte mayor Rolando Espinosa and his fellow inmate Raul Yap at the Baybay, Leyte Sub-provincial jail last November.
Acting on the petition for review filed by the accused in the case led by Superintendent Marvin Marcos, Justice Undersecretary Reynante Orceo in a resolution dated May 29 said the alleged planning of the killing of Espinosa and Yap must be established with as much clarity and certainty for it to be called murder.
The DOJ in its ruling partially granted the plea of the accused as it downgraded the charges against 19 CIDG cops from murder to homicide, a bailable offense.
"In the present case we cannot speculate or even assume that there was evident premeditation as nothing in the records could prove the same," the resolution read.
"Not a single witness was present during the pre-operation meeting where it was surmised that the 'plan' was hatched by the respondents," it added.
The DOJ in the resolution stressed that with the absence of evidence, it was erroneous for the panel of prosecutors to conclude that the respondents "craftily" executed the killings.
In a resolution issued last March, the DOJ indicted for murder and malicious procurement of search warrant 19 CIDG cops involved in the killing of Yap and Espinosa.
"The killings are qualified by evidence premeditation since the attack was well planned. The records will show that respondents craftily executed the killings under the pretense of implementing a search warrant,” the resolution issued by the panel of prosecutors led by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Lilian Doris Alejo dated March 2017 read.
Furthermore, Undersecretary Orceo in the resolution said the DOJ will not give weight to the earlier claim of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that the killing was a rub-out and not a shootout as claimed by the respondents.
"Complainants' version that there was a rub-out as the victims were unarmed cannot be given much weight as both of them were armed and fired their guns when they implemented the search warrants," the DOJ said.
The DOJ also noted that paraffin test conducted after the incident confirms that the hands of Espinosa and Yap contain gunpowder nitrates.
In its ruling, the DOJ also dismissed the charges against PCI Leo Laraga, PO3 Norman Abellanosa and former inmate Paul Olendan for malicious procurement of search warrants.
The DOJ said there is no irregular in the procurement of search warrant before a court in Leyte as it is proven that Espinosa and Yap indeed possessed illegal drugs and firearm. (SunStar Philippines)