Drilon blasts 'conspiracy' to downgrade raps vs cops in Espinosa slay

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 21 2017 10:59 AM

MANILA - Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday slammed the Department of Justice's decision to downgrade the charges against policemen tagged in the slay of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa in his cell last November.

"There is a conspiracy to go around the rule of law, and it’s really unfortunate because this encourages impunity," he told ANC's Headstart.

"If we don’t do something about this, then people will just lose their faith in our ability to enforce the rule of law," he added.

The Senate last year investigated Espinosa's death and found that the slay was "premeditated and with abuse of authority" on the part of the police operatives.

Recently, however, the murder charges against the 19 policemen were downgraded to the bailable offense of homicide because of the absence of evident premeditation. They are now out on bail.

"All of these circumstances lead us to the conclusion that in fact, there was a conspiracy, there was a collusion here between the DOJ, the PNP, and it is possible this judge who, first, issued the search warrant, who immediately allowed the downgrading," Drilon said in the interview.

The Senate minority bloc, which Drilon leads, will file a resolution expressing "grave concern of the Senate" over the developments in the Albuera mayor slay case, according to Senator Risa Hontiveros.

They also want Aguirre to be summoned for the hearing on the resolution.

Asked for a reaction to the possible request for his presence in the hearing, Aguirre told ABS-CBN News: "I did not have any hand in the drafting of the resolution being referred to by some senators. I was not the one who resolved the matter. I was not the one who wrote it. I was not the one who signed it."

Justice Undersecretary Erickson Balmes meanwhile said while the probe will not be for Aguirre to decide on, the Secretary "will appear out of respect for a co-equal branch of government and of a distinguished and a hallowed institution."

GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION

In the interview, Drilon said the Supreme Court should look into the behavior of the judge because "it is so unusual that these things happen."

Drilon, a former justice secretary himself, said after the DOJ's downgrade, a "remedy to correct this injustice" is for the family of the victim--Espinosa in this case--to raise the issue to the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court and "raise the grave abuse of discretion committed by the judge in allowing the downgrading."

The Senate, he said, can join as "intervenors" or petitioners in such an appeal.