MANILA - The Supreme Court on Friday ordered an independent investigation into a judge's issuance of search warrant that led to the killing of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. in his own jail cell early November.
The SC en banc ordered the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) to look into the issuance of Judge Tarcelo Sabarre Jr. of the Regional Trial Court Branch 30 in Basey, Samar of the search warrant against Espinosa, who was already detained in a government facility.
The high court also told the OCA to look into the participation and possible liability of Sabarre, as well as that of Judge Carlos Arguelles of Branch 14, RTC Baybay, Leyte.
The Supreme Court said Arguelles failed to act on Espinosa's motion to transfer his detention despite the judge's ocular inspection and the motion submitted for resolution.
Cops defended the timing of the search - conducted at 4:10 a.m. last November 5 - saying that the warrant issued by Sabarre ordered an "immediate search at any time of the day or night."
It took Sabarre only five hours to issue a search warrant against Espinosa, the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group's timeline presented during a Congressional probe showed.
Members of the CIDG-8 applied for a search warrant on November 4 at 8 a.m. Witnesses were interviewed by the "presiding judge" at around 10 a.m., and the search warrant was issued at 1 p.m., CIDG officials said.
Although Espinosa was detained in Leyte, cops opted to apply for a search warrant in Samar, as Leyte provincial officials were allegedly involved in the Albuera mayor's drug dealings, officials said.