Espinosa-slay-case
Image Courtesy of Inquirer News – INQUIRER.net

CHICAGO – On June 8, 1953, then Philippine Secretary Oscar Tombo Castelo of the Departments of Justice and Defense left Manila for Korea but before boarding the plane, he called his nephew, Augusto Melencio, who was also an agent of the defense department, and his bodyguard Bienvenido “Ben Ulo” Mendoza to tell them, “Huwag lang hindi ninyo mapatay si (Manuel P.) Monroy bago ako dumating” (Don’t fail to kill Monroy before my return), to which Ben Ulo replied, “Huwag kang mag-alala, halos patay na siya” (Don’t you worry, he is as good as dead.)

On the night of June 15, 1953, while Secretary Castelo was in Korea, Ben Ulo and eight other henchmen carried out the murder of Monroy who was playing “mahjong” with his wife and two others in No. 18-C Gamboa Apartments on David St., Pasay City.

While the murder case was pending, Castelo went to the United States, but before his departure, he told Ben Ulo and Melencio, “Ben ang mga bata, ikaw na ang bahala sa kanila. Siguruhin mo lang ni walang magsasalita at delikado tayo” (Ben, take care of the boys, be sure nobody talks as we would be in danger).

A few weeks later, Florentino “Scarface” Suarez, the “potential squealer was killed mysteriously while Castelo was abroad again,” stated a per curiam decision of the majority decision of the  Supreme Court, which convicted Castelo and seven others of “murder – qualified by premeditation — beyond reasonable doubt. There are aggravating circumstances, like nighttime, aid of armed men, etc., but for lack of sufficient votes, they are all sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to indemnify the heirs of Monroy, jointly and severally, in the sum of six thousand pesos (P6,000.00), and to pay the costs.”

This Supreme Court decision handed down in 1964 when text messaging was decades away contradicts squarely a statement of President Duterte that because police Superintendent Marvin Marcos was not at the crime scene, Marcos’s police power should be restored to him. This chilled the spines of witnesses and investigators of his alleged crimes.

And if Marcos were to use his absence at the crime scene as an alibi, he would need to convince the Supreme Court to overturn the landmark case of People of the Philippines v. Castelo et al. (http://bit.ly/2tlmwGt) to depart from its ruling that the “act of one is the act of all” even if mastermind or conspirator were thousands of miles away from the crime scene.  

The Philippine Senate was not pleased when the Department of Justice downgraded its recommendation from murder to homicide against Marcos and 18 others, who carried out the murder of a former Albuera (Leyte) Mayor Rolando Espinosa and his cellmate inside the jail. The killing was attended by aggravating circumstances as the offenders using their public position and abuse of confidence, the crime committed in the night time and in a band, the crime committed with aid of armed policemen who ensure or afford impunity, used superior strength or used or employed means to weaken the defense and the act committed with treachery.

The Senate may introduce a bill that would prevent any investigating agency, including such constitutional bodies as Ombudsman or the Department of Justice, from altering its findings of probable cause after a Senate panel had conducted an investigation on a certain case and had made a recommendation.

Any violation of such legislation can be grounds for removal from office either by impeachment if committed by Ombudsman or by filing of graft charges if committed by the Secretary of the Department of Justice or his subalterns.

The Senate Committee on Justice chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon concluded that the police involved in the operation committed obstruction of justice when the police operatives tried to conceal their involvement in the narcotics trade of Espinosa. The killing was attended by premeditation and abuse of authority.

Actually, the Senate, if it wants to let President Duterte stay on line, can initiate impeachment proceedings against the President for culpable violation of the Constitution. The proceedings can say that the President had abused his discretion after the Senate report criticized President Duterte for “micromanaging” the police as it said that the deaths of Espinoza and inmate Raul Yap could have been prevented had the order of Philippine National Police Chief Ronald de la Rosa to relieve the police officers were not rescinded by the President.

By countermanding De la Rosa’s order, President Duterte violated an article of the Constitution that says, “The President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices. He shall ensure that the laws be faithfully executed.”

“It is also worth noting that PSUPT (Marvin) Marcos and his men from CIDG-8 could have been prevented from doing their dastardly deed as they had been relieved by PNP Chief De la Rosa prior to November 05, 2016. Yet, as borne by the record and the testimony of the PNP Chief, his order was rescinded and Supt. Marcos’ team was reinstated by President Duterte,” said the report.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chair of the Senate panel on public order, said that Duterte’s order basically disregarded the “conspiracy angle” that the Senate panels discovered.