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Questions raised on ‘delay’ in prison sentence execution vs Jing Jing Espinosa

A prominent lawyer in Iloilo City has expressed surprise, and disbelief, that a prison sentence imposed on Jesus “Jing Jing” Espinosa Jr. was not immediately carried out after the Regional Trial Court Branch 31 received a Resolution from the Supreme Court upholding his conviction for frustrated murder four years ago.

Atty. Eldrid Antiquera, a former Iloilo City Councilor and legal assistant of the late Raul M. Gonzalez when he served as Justice Secretary, told Aksyon Radyo Iloilo that the circumstances that caused the delayed execution of the jail sentence should be investigated to make sure there was no hanky-panky.

“The Supreme Court takes these things seriously, because such negligence can thwart the course of justice,” Antiquera said. In many cases, court officials found to have been remiss in their duties have been suspended for similar omissions, he added.

Rosenia Jover, OIC Clerk of Court of Branch 31, issued a notice of hearing to both the prosecution and the defense lawyer, as well as the bail bond companies, on Tuesday, October 4, 2016, to tackle the revocation of the P200,000 bail bond for Espinosa.

Another court official told me that the revocation of the bail bond is the first step toward the issuance of a warrant of arrest to put Espinosa behind bars and begin serving his prison sentence.

notice-of-hearing

NOTICE OF HEARING ON THE REVOCATION OF BAIL BOND SET FOR OCT. 4, 2016. (Photo credit: RMN 774)

Espinosa, also known as “Bondying” in the order of battle of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), was found guilty as an accomplice for frustrated murder when he and two others shot and wounded Mark Serra in Barangay Monica on November 24, 2002.

Espinosa was able to submit a paraffin test report showing that he was negative for nitrate powder burns during his trial and was meted out a lighter sentence of six months and one day of prision correccional as minimum to eight years and one day as prision mayor as maximum.

He was convicted way back in 2006 by then RTC Branch 31 judge Rene Hortillo.

Espinosa appealed his conviction to the Court of Appeals. In a decision handed down on July 14, 2008, the Court of Appeals Eighteenth Division upheld the trial court’s ruling.

The case was elevated to the Supreme Court on a petition for review on certiorari. But the Supreme Court, in a Resolution dated May 30, 2011, denied the appeal for failure of petitioner Espinosa to substantially show any reversible error in the C.A. decision. The decision was declared “final and executory” by the Supreme Court on October 24, 2011.

Following judicial procedure, the case records were remanded to the Court of Appeals which in turn sent back the files to the lower court, Branch 31.

The markings on the documents show that RTC Branch 31 received the by registered mail on September 7, 2012. At the time, RTC Branch 31, along with all other courts of the RTC and Iloilo City MTC, were housed at the De Paul College campus in Jaro district as the Hall of Justice was undergoing refurbishing and repair.

The records affirming the conviction virtually vanished then, and it was only last July this year, during the conduct of an inventory of cases, that the same was noticed. Or so OIC Clerk of Court Rosenia Jover said.

For Antiquera, that explanation should not be accepted “hook, line and sinker.”

This discovery was made public only last Monday in The Daily Guardian and this blog, along with interviews with Aksyon Radyo Iloilo anchorman John Paul Tia and RMN 774 anchors Novie Guazo and Regan Arlos.

Indeed, the excuse is too shallow to be accepted. Almost every year, trial courts are mandated by the Supreme Court to conduct inventories of cases. This means RTC Branch 31 should have discovered this oversight in 2013 or 2014.

But why did it take four years?

drilon-with-kap-dabing

Monica barangay captain Keith “Dabing” Espinosa, wife of Jing Jing Espinosa, poses with the most powerful man in Iloilo City — Senator Franklin Drilon.

There are speculations that somebody powerful may have intervened to “bury” the case records, and it was only after President Rodrigo Duterte came to power that it was resurrected.

Kap dabing with drilon

VIP treatment palagi si Kap Dabing Espinosa na asawa ni Jing Jing Espinosa sa mga okasyon ni Drilon.

 

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TNT Libre January 31 edition highlights Jing Jing’s threat

TNT Libre January 31 edition highlights Jing Jing's threat

In a series of FB private messages and blog comments, Jing Jing Espinosa has sent a strong warning against the reportage I’ve been doing on his cases.
Jing Jing is now facing two counts of frustrated murder and one count of attempted murder for trying to kill his own uncles on June 1, 2010.
Jobless, with no legitimate business, Jing Jing has erected a 5-story residence in Barangay Monica City Proper where City Mayor Jed Patrick Escalante Mabilog is a frequent visitor.
Mabilog shrugged off Jing Jing’s dark past as a convicted killer and a reputed drug lord as irrelevant. He said he is proud of their friendship and counts Jing Jing as his number one supporter for his re election bid.

Jing Jing Espinosa sends a not-so-subtle threat

Jing Jing Espinosa sends a not-so-subtle threat

Jing Jing Espinosa, who has served a prison term for killing a hapless deaf-mute back in 1993, is angry that I reported on the filing of frustrated and attempted murder charges against him by the Department of Justice. He sent me this message through a Facebook private message. He thinks he can frighten everybody because he enjoys protection from the top floor of the overpriced Iloilo City Hall.

Jing Jing Espinosa, cousin face frustrated murder raps

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) has found probable cause to file charges of two counts of frustrated murder and one for attempted murder against Jesus “Jing-Jing” Espinosa Jr. and Benjamin “Benjie” Espinosa for allegedly trying to kill their own uncles during the barangay fiesta of Barangay Monica nearly three years ago.

In a seven-page Resolution signed by Assistant State Prosecutor Rohairah A. Lao, the DOJ said there is solid evidence to indict the two Espinosa cousins for firing their handguns at Pascual “Toto E” Espinosa III, Leo Espinosa and Sergio Espinosa at around 2 a.m. on June 1, 2010.

Pascual and Leo Espinosa suffered gunshot wounds while Sergio survived the attached unharmed.

In their complaints, the three victims said their fiesta party at the family’s ancestral house had just ended at around 2 a.m. when there was a sudden burst of gunfire directed at them. All three, including eyewitnesses, pointed to Jing Jing and Benjie Espinosa as their assailants.

Pascual sustained three bullet wounds in the side of his body that could have caused his death had there been a delay in bringing him to a hospital.

Leo was hit in the right thigh. Miraculously, Sergio was not hit.

The preliminary investigation of the case had to be handled by the DOJ after Jing Jing Espinosa asked that assistant provincial prosecutor Antonio Chin, who was assigned to hear the case, inhibit himself from the case because of his perceived closeness of Assistant City Prosecutor Resty Ann Espinosa-Borja, daughter of Pascual III.

Lao noted that the defense of Jing Jing Espinosa was nothing more than an alibi that he had no involvement in the shooting.

Jing Jing said that he had arrived from Manila in the evening of May 31, 2010 as the fiesta celebration was already underway.

Jing Jing said he was about to transfer his Ford Everest to the front of his house near the basketball court after the fiesta dance party ended at about 2 o’ clock a.m. when he saw the three victims start firing their guns at his car.

Jing Jing claimed he had no firearm and had to run home, leaving his car behind, to seek protection in their home.

His co-respondent Benjie said he was not in the area when the incident took place.

But Lao said she was not convinced by the defense put up by the two respondents in the case.  

“After perusal of the record and the evidence submitted by the parties, the undersigned (Lao) is convinced that a probable cause for the crimes of frustrated and attempted murder exist against respondents Jesus Epinosa and Benjamin Espinosa in the instant case,” she said.

Lao said “the narration of facts and their witnesses are straightforward, believable and appear to be in consonance with logic and reason.”

Lao stressed that positive identification of the assailants by the victims is always given more weight and credence than mere denial and alibi of the defense.

“In the instant case, respondent Jesus admitted that he was at the crime scene at the time of the incident,” she said.

Lao also found it strange that if indeed Jing Jing was unarmed, he did not suffer even a single gunshot wound when a hail of bullets supposedly cascaded on his car.

“This is because respondent Jesus was not tellling the truth and wanted this office to believe his incredible story,” she said.

The resolution was dated October 12, 2012 but was received by complainants only a few days ago.

Jing Jing became controversial recently after he posted photographs showing him in the company of City Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog, Rep. Jerry P. Trenas, Vice Mayor Joe Espinosa III and other local officials in parties at his Barangay Monica residence on his Facebook page.

Jing Jing had been convicted for the murder of a deaf mute in Barangay Monica 20 years ago. He was also accused for the ambush of Pascual III near the San Jose Church in 2003 but was acquitted for lack of evidence.

Pascual III said Jing Jing has developed a deep hatred against him after he exposed his nephew’s alleged involvement in the illegal drug business.

When confronted by the media on his friendship with Jing Jing, Mabilog said he was not ashamed about such friendship. He was even proud of it, he said.

 

Iloilo City Hall ‘corrupt’ – business sector

Barangay tanods in Barangay Monica armed to the teeth

Barangay Tanods (village watchmen) in Barangay Monica, City Proper, Iloilo City wield high-powered rifles in this photo posted by Jing Jing Espinosa. This is the barangay where his wife is the Punong Barangay (barangay captain). Under existing laws, these barangay tanods are not authorized to carry firearms. But the law doesn’t exist in this barangay where Jing Jing Espinosa is the high lord, with Jed Patrick E. Mabilog and Jerry Trenas as his patrons.

Mabilog: ‘I’m proud to be best friend of Jing Jing Espinosa”

Front page of The News Today, November 19, 2012.