Wednesday, November 25, 2015

SC Justice Leonen heads body tasked to probe judges' murders

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MANILA, Philippines -- The Supreme Court has named its youngest member, Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, to head a body tasked to investigate the recent murders of judges.

Leonen will “start discussions with appropriate agencies of government towards the creation of a task force or task group to address the continuing assassinations and killings of judges while in the performances of their duties,” lawyer Theodore Te, the high court’s spokesman, said Tuesday.

The appointment of Leonen came the same day the National Bureau of Investigation said it has created a team to probe Sunday’s murder of Reynaldo Espinar, presiding judge of the municipal circuit trial court of Laoang in Northern Samar and also acting presiding judge of the MCTC in Gamay town.

An NBI official who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak on the matter said the team will be under the supervision of deputy director for regional operations Edmund Arugay.

Among others, the NBI team will seek to determine the motive for Espinar’s murder, look at the cases he was handling and reports that he had been receiving death threats before he was killed.

Espinar, who reportedly survived an ambush in August, was gunned down at the cockpit in Laoang and the still unidentified killer was then shot dead by the judge’s bodyguard.

Before Espinar’s murder, gunmen also ambushed Judge Wildredo Nieves of the regional trial court in Malolos, Bulacan while he was on his way home from work. But on Monday, the Bulacan police said arrested suspect Arnel Janoras was shot dead when he supposedly tried to grab the firearm of one of his police escorts.

In September, another RTC judge, Erwin Alaba or Baler, Aurora was murdered by still unidentified gunmen outside his office. 

The SC has condemned the killings and called on law enforcement agencies to immediately arrest the perpetrators. 

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