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Espenido, 2 other cops charged with homicide

Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed homicide charges against the controversial chief of the Ozamiz City police, Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido, and two of his men for the killing of six robbery suspects in police operations in June last year.

A panel of prosecutors charged Espenido, Senior Police Officer 4 Renato Martir Jr. and PO1 Sandra Louise Nadayag with six counts of homicide, but absolved Chief Insp. Glyndo Pujanes.

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The prosecutors said Pujanes could not have been involved in the killings since he arrived at the scene in Barangays Cabinti and Balintawak in Ozamiz City hours after the police raids on June 1, 2017.

The victims were identified as Fancracio Manzano, his son Jerry, his daughter’s common-law husband Victorino Mira Jr., his nephew Lito Manisan, his niece’s common-law husband Romeo Libaton, and a certain Alvin Lapeña.

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The police claimed that the victims died in a “legitimate encounter” and had fired first.

Six other men were arrested during the raids, and police allegedly recovered firearms, pieces of jewelry and sachets of suspected “shabu” (crystal meth).

Accused of murder

Manzano’s wife Carmelita accused Espenido, Martir and Nadayag of murder for the death of her family members, and of arbitrary detention for holding her for six days after the raid.

In a resolution dated July 30 but released to the media only on Thursday, the DOJ panel downgraded the charges to homicide and dismissed the arbitrary detention charge.

Unlike murder, homicide is a bailable offense.

In a resolution written by Assistant State Prosecutor Loverhette Jeffrey Villordon, the DOJ said the elements of murder were not established.

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“[N]either the complainant nor any of her witnesses actually saw the killing. As such there is no basis to qualify the charge of murder,” part of the resolution stated.

Albuera police chief

The DOJ said Espenido, Martir and Nadayag should be tried for the crime of homicide since they “do not deny that their police operation resulted [in] the death of [the] victims.”

Espenido was the police chief of Albuera, Leyte, when President Duterte accused the town’s mayor, Rolando Espinosa Sr., and his son Kerwin, of drug trafficking and of coddling drug dealers and demanded their surrender on Aug. 1, 2016. The elder Espinosa voluntarily surrendered in Camp Crame on Aug. 2, 2016.

The mayor was later killed when he allegedly shot it out with the police in his detention cell at the Baybay City provincial jail on Nov. 10, 2016.

Shortly after Espinosa’s killing, Espenido was assigned to Ozamiz City as its police chief.

On July 31, 2017, Espenido led the police operation that resulted in the killing of Ozamiz Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and 14 others.

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