MANILA - The Philippine National Police (PNP) promised Monday to look into an alleged 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.
"Isasali na rin namin iyan sa process ng imbestigasyon naming ginagawa. Titingnan namin lahat ng anggulo," said chief Superintendent Leo Leuterio, Deputy Inspector General of the PNP Internal Affairs Service (IAS) which is heading a probe on Espinosa's death.
Senator Panfilo Lacson bared Sunday a"pattern" in the killing of the mayor and alleged Espinosa Drug Group members Edgar Allan Alvarez and Fernando Balagbis.
All three men, he pointed out, were detained at separate jail facilities in Leyte province and were killed after supposedly fighting policemen who served search warrants during the wee hours.
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Region 8 led the search on the jail cells of Espinosa and Alvarez, while a joint team from the Baybay City police and the Eastern Visayas Regional Anti-Drug Special Operations Task Force served the warrant against Balagbis.
The search warrants for the three men were all secured from a judge outside Leyte province, particularly in Samar, added Lacson who is leading a Senate inquiry into Espinosa's death.
ONE RAID, TWO CONFLICTING STORIES
Espinosa's death in the 4 a.m. raid by over 20 law enforcers has been described as "premeditated" by Lacson and as "overkill" by the PNP-IAS.
Bolstering the theory that the mayor was killed in a rubout were the different accounts given by jail personnel and CIDG-8 operatives about the serving of the search warrants.
Photos of the "clash" scene obtained by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) also show the mayor's bloodied body with both of his hands empty of a gun. These marked a stark contrast to an official photo released by the CIDG which shows a gun clasped in Espinosa's right hand.
Leuterio promised that the IAS will look into all the conflicting stories on Espinosa's death. Investigators, he said, are currently collecting counter-affidavits from the policemen involved in the bloody operation.
"Nasa punto na kasi tayo ng imbestigasyon ngayon na hihingin na natin iyung formal statement ng policemen na involved. We have informed them na mayroong allegations against sa kanila noong mag-conduct sila ng search warrant sa sub-provincial jail sa Baybay City," he told radio DZMM.
"Tinitingnan natin lahat ng anggulo. Kapag nag-submit sila ng counter-affidavit nila, makikita natin ang both sides ng picture."
The IAS has already collected statements from Espinosa's fellow detainees, jail guards, employees of the Leyte provincial capitol, scene of the crime operatives, and four members of the Public Safety Company present during the raid, Leuterio said.
The investigation, he added, may also examine the crime scene photos from the PCIJ.