DOJ: Search warrant issued vs Espinosa 'highly-irregular'

THE issuance of the search warrant against slain Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. over his alleged possession of firearms was "highly irregular," the Department of Justice prosecutors in a resolution said.

The search warrant issued by Basey, Samar, Leyte Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 30 Judge Tarcelo Sabarre Jr. was the basis of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) operatives to raid the Leyte Sub-provincial jail on November 5. The operation had led to the killing of Espinosa and another inmate Raul Yap.

"Leyte Provincial Jail is a government detention facility. As personnel of NLCIDG 8, respondents have ready access to the said jail administrator. Verily, the application and subsequent issuance by Judge Tarcelo Sabare Jr., Executive Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 30, Basey, Samar, Leyte, of Search Warrant Nos. 2016-11-20 and 2016-11-19 was highly irregular, unnecessary and unprocedural," the resolution read.

The panel of prosecutors led by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Olivia Torevillas said that since Espinosa and Yap were already detained, "there were no justifiable grounds to support the extreme urgency to implement the search at cell nos. 1 and 7 at around 3 a.m. of November 5."

The DOJ also said the CIDG raiding team abused their authority when they opened the jail gate using a bolt cutter and ordered the guards to kneel down and face the wall.

"The implementation of the search warrant was excessive that jail guard Narciso Ortega testified that he urinated in his pants."

"Worse, after learning that Raul Yap was not in Cell No. 2 and was transferred to Cell No. 7, they proceeded to the said prison cell and implemented the search, inspite of the fact that the search warrant limits the search to only Cell No.2," the resolution said.

The DOJ has recommended the filing of administrative complaint against Sabarre over the anomalous warrant he issued against the two.

Former inmate Paul Olendan, also charged by the DOJ for perjury, malicious procurement of search warrant along with Police Inspector Leo Laraga and SPO4 Marvin Wynn Marcos, was the witness who told the court that he saw Yap repacking shabu and Espinosa owning a gun.

17 members of the PNP Region 8 were also charged by the DOJ for murder for conspiring to kill Espinosa and Yap inside their jail cells.

The Supreme Court last January has announced the filing of administrative complaint against Sabarre following the Office of the Court Administrator's (OCA) findings that he is administratively liable for issuing search warrants to be implemented in a jail facility.

The OCA in its findings emphasized that jail facilities are not private dwelling that comes under the protection of the right to privacy. (SunStar Philippines)