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.

 

Clear and present danger: city mayor and drug lords are bosom friends in Iloilo City

The first time the name of Jesus “Jing Jing” Espinosa came out in the news happened sometime in 1993 when he was accused of murdering a deaf-mute who had done nothing to provoke him.

Jing Jing, as he is popularly known, happened to pass by when the victim, Augusto Elon, was urinating in front of their house. He shot him three times at close range. The victim died instantly.

Jed is a frequent visitor to Jing Jing Espinosa’s residence in Barangay Monica. He is a godfather to one of Jing Jing’s children.

The Regional Trial Court of Iloilo found Jing Jing guilty of murder and sentenced him to 10-17 years in prison. After serving his prison term, Jing Jing returned to the “waterfront” area in Barangay Monica.

Sources in the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said Jing Jing became friends with a known drug lord while he was in jail. They became business associates upon getting out of jail, the sources said.

“Jing Jing is now a big-time drug lord in Iloilo City,” said a relative in Barangay Monica. His house there is almost like a tower overlooking the waterfront area. It is five stories tall.

In June 2010, Jing Jing’s name again hit the news when a relative, Pascual “Toto E” Espinosa and his brother, Leo, were ambushed on Zamora St., City Proper. “Toto”, a former executive assistant at City Hall during the Malabor administration, suffered wounds but survived. Jing Jing was accused as the perpetrator.

When the case was filed before the City Prosecutor’s Office, Jing Jing asked that the entire prosecutor’s office be inhibited from handling the investigation. The case is still pending before the Department of Justice.

That was the second time “Toto E” was ambushed, allegedly by Jing Jing. In an earlier incident, “Toto E” suffered scratches after his relative allegedly fired at him near a church in the waterfront area.

According to sources, Jing Jing was also convicted of the crime of frustrated murder. The conviction is pending appeal before the Court of Appeals.

Jing Jing is described as a very violent individual. His rise as a drug lord has enabled him to control the entire waterfront area and keeps the police force assigned to the area under his beck and call, according to another relative interviewed for this article.

Because of this, the police is virtually helpless in stopping crimes taking place in the area. One resident said there is hardly a night when there are no gunfire bursts to shatter the quiet evening; the police could do nothing about it, she said.

Jing Jing Espinosa has his own private army in Barangay Monica, armed with heavy firepower. When Mabilog and Trenas visit him, even barangay tanods are issued machine pistols to beef up security.

“Jing Jing is untouchable in the waterfront, and this is largely because of his close friendship with Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog,” an informant in the area said.

Mabilog, the informant said, is a frequent visitor to Jing Jing’s house. This information is validated by the numerous photographs that surfaced over social media networks these last few days showing Mabilog and Jing Jing together.

“Mabilog is the godfather of one of Jing Jing’s children,” said another source. “Mag-kumpare sila,” he added.

When Mabilog was asked about his association with Jing Jing, he told local media there was nothing wrong with it. He even dismissed the issue as “non-sense”.

But the spread of the photographs showing Mabilog and Jing Jing on intimate terms shows many Ilonggos are bothered by this friendship.

Former Iloilo City congressman Raul Gonzalez Jr. sent a text message that in Davao City, drug pushers flee upon seeing the approach of former City Mayor, and now Vice Mayor, Rodrigo Duterte.

“In Iloilo City, our city mayor and congressman (Jerry P. Trenas) even wine and dine with drug lords,” Gonzalez said.

One of the photographs that circulated on the Internet also shows Trenas, along with Vice Mayor Joe Espinosa III and Liga ng mga Barangay federation president Bobby Divinagracia, enjoying a meal with Jing Jing.

There are worries that the intimacy between Mabilog and Jing Jing is the reason the illegal drugs problem has flourished in Iloilo City.

“Mabilog has kept a tight rein on law enforcement authorities and prevented them from pursuing drug pushers in the city,” one police officer, who asked not to be identified, said.