MANILA -- Senator Panfilo Lacson on Sunday noted a pattern in the separate police operations which led to the deaths of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa and two alleged members of the narcotics ring of his son, Kerwin.
Lacson pointed out that the mayor and alleged Espinosa Drug Group members Edgar Allan Alvarez and Fernando Balagbis were all killed after supposedly fighting policemen who served search warrants at separate jail facilities in Leyte province.
All three men were killed during the wee hours, Lacson also noted.
Espinosa and another detainee were shot dead in a "gunfight" with operatives of the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Region 8 at the Baybay City Provincial Jail (BCPJ) at past 4 a.m. on November 5.
Balagbis, an alleged drug pusher of Kerwin, was also killed in a "shootout" with policemen who raided his cell inside the city jail of Baybay before 3 a.m. on October 28.
Alvarez, one of Kerwin's three alleged drug suppliers, was killed in a 2 a.m. "firefight" with CIDG-8 men at the Abuyog penal colony last August 11.
Lacson also noted that the search warrants for the jail cells of the three men were all secured from a judge outside Leyte province, particularly in Samar.
Judge Tarcelo Sabarre Jr. of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 30 in Basey, Samar issued the search warrant on Espinosa's cell. Judge Janet Cabalona of RTC Branch 33 in Calbiga, Samar issued the warrants for Alvarez and Balagbis separately in October.
CIDG TOLD: EXPLAIN OPS
Lacson, who is heading a Senate inquiry into Espinosa's death, has summoned CIDG-8 officials to explain the apparent pattern in their fatal operations.
He has also asked the police unit to report on the vigilante attacks that killed other personalities linked to the Espinosas, including their lawyer, Atty. Rogelio Bato; Kerwin's estranged wife, Annalou Llaguno; and alleged police coddler, Chief Inspector Hesus Son.
The Eastern Visayas Police Regional Office, Lacson said, has claimed that a single group was behind the deaths of Bato and Son.
"Ang report ng Police Regional Office-8, iisa lang ang tinitingnan nilang suspek o grupo na pumatay kay Attorney Bato saka iyung pumatay kay Chief Inspector Son. Ang tanong doon ay kung bakit at kung sino ang grupo na iyun," he said.
(The Police Regional Office-8 reported that a single group may be behind the deaths of Attorney Bato and Chief Inspector Son. The question is why they were killed and what group was responsible.)
ESPINOSA SLAY 'PREMEDITATED'
Lacson added that the CIDG-8 must also prove that Espinosa was killed in a gun battle because initial investigation shows that the mayor's death was "premeditated and planned."
"Sa ngayon, iisa lang ang naging conclusion ng mga kasamahan ko kasama na rin ng karamihan ng mga kababayan natin na talagang premeditated na at talagang planado na iyung pagpatay kay Mayor Espinosa," he said.
(My colleagues and majority of the public currently conclude that the Mayor's killing was premeditated and planned.)
Contrary to the police story, an inmate has claimed that the mayor pleaded for his life and a gun may have been planted on his lifeless body, Lacson said.
Photos obtained by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism also shows the mayor's bloodied body with both of his hands empty of a gun.
Lacson also noted that the policemen called Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) even before the fatal raid, and had allegedly refused to coordinate with the jail guards.
The probe on Espinosa's death has been temporarily suspended so lawmakers could focus on floor debates for the national budget this week. Lacson said he may ask for a resumption of the probe if Kerwin is repatriated back to the country from the United Arab Emirates, where he has been detained since his arrest on October 17.