PHILIPPINE National Police chief Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. de la Rosa has vowed full transparency and no cover-up in the investigation into the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. inside his prison cell in Baybay City in a reported gunbattle with agents of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group on Saturday morning.
The PNP chief who flew to the United States after going on official leave to watch the Manny Pacquiao-Jessie Vargas fight promised a full-blast investigation into the incident as he ordered his men to determine the circumstances surrounding the mayor’s killing. He also said that he wants to know why a warrant was needed to search Espinosa’s cell inside the Baybay City. De la Rosa said no government money was spent for his U.S. trip neither did he spend any of his personal money since it was his best friend Pacquiao who paid for his airfare and hotel accommodation.
Members of the CIDG raiding team said they were forced to return fire after the mayor started shooting at them. The PNP chief said he wants to determine the veracity of reports that the killing of the mayor was connected to a supposed “blue book” being held by his son Kerwin who is now being held in an Abu Dhabi cell. The “blue book” allegedly contains the names of government and law enforcement officials under the payroll of Kerwin.
Gen. de la Rosa also said he respect’s his former boss now Senator Panfilo ‘Ping’ M. Lacson’s opinion but called on the lawmaker to wait for the result of the PNP investigation first. Senator Lacson said the death of Espinosa smelled of an “EJK” or extra-judicial killing, citing allegedly questionable circumstances in the incident.
Mayor Espina and a fellow drug inmate identified as Raul Yap were killed in a Saturday dawn raid at the Baybay City sub-provincial jail.
The mayor and Yap, both detained for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 shot it out with members of the 8th Regional Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit led by Chief Inspector Leo Laraga who raided their cell 4 a.m. Saturday, said an official Police Regional Office 8 report.
The CIDG operatives stormed the Leyte Sub-Provincial Jail located in Barangay Hipusngo in Baybay City on the strength of a search warrant for violation of RA 9165 and RA 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulations Act of 2013 issued by Judge Tarcelo Sabarre Jr. of the Basey, Samar Regional Trial Court Branch 30, said PRO8 director, Chief Superintendent Elmer Beltejar.
Beltejar said that their initial investigation showed that the CIDG team led by Laraga were met with gunfire from the two as they were about to search their cell. “A brief shootout occurred between the raiding team and the detainees resulting in the killing of the two suspects,” Beltejar said.
‘‘As a matter of procedure, this incident will undergo investigation to establish the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident,” the official said.
The Eastern Visayas police director said he has created a special investigation task group to look into the incident while the Regional Internal Affairs Service 8 will also conduct its own investigation into the reported shootout.
The Leyte sub-provincial jail is administered and managed by the Leyte provincial government.