THE Department of Justice (DoJ) recommended the indictment of controversial Ozamis City police chief Jovie Espenido and three other police officers for six counts of homicide in connection with June 2017 deaths of several criminals known as “Ozamis 9.”
In a resolution, the DoJ said there is probable cause to warrant the indictment of Espenido, SPO4 Renato Martir Jr. and PO1 Sandra Nayag based on the complaint of Carmelita Manzano, wife of Francasio Manzano, who was one of those killed in the police operation.
Espenido and his co-respondents earlier asked the DoJ to dismiss the charges against them, saying what happened was a legitimate police operation and that the persons killed were alleged members of the “Martilyo” robbery group involved in a series of robberies in Ozamis.
But the panel of prosecutors said their admission of killing the victims were adequate to warrant the filing of homicide charges.
“In this case, respondents do not deny that their police operation resulted in the death of herein victims. They admitted killing the said persons. In their defense though, they claim that they were just doing their jobs as policemen engaged in hot pursuit operation. In other words, they wish to avail of the justifying circumstance of fulfillment of a duty or killing in the lawful exercise of a right or office,” part of the resolution said.
“Unfortunately for respondents, their admission of killing the herein victims is, on its own, sufficient to establish probable cause for the crime of homicide,” it added.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Espenido and his co-accused may still appeal the case.
Also, homicide, unlike murder, is a bailable offense under the Revised Penal Code.
Espenido became controversial after he led the police raid in July last year that resulted to the killing of Ozamis City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and 14 others inside the mayor’s residence.