THE mayor of Albuera, Leyte linked to the illegal drug trade was killed along with another inmate when they allegedly engaged in a shootout police who raided the local executive’s cell looking for shabu and firearms.
A dawn raid at the Baybay City sub-provincial jail yesterday led to the killing of detained Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. and a fellow inmate by agents of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, officials said.
Espinosa was the second mayor linked to drugs who died in a clash with police.
The mayor and his cellmate Raul 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 at 4 a.m. yesterday.
According to CIDG Region 8 chief Police Supt. Marvin Marcos, his men led by Police Chief Inspector Leo Laraga went to the detention facility to implement two search warrants against Mayor Espinosa and Yap following reports that the two were still engaged in illegal drug activities.
Marcos said when the team entered the jail the suspects immediately fired their guns triggering a firefight.
He explained that their office received intelligence report on alleged illegal drugs transactions inside the jail and raided the jail holding Espinosa upon getting a search warrant from the court.
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 a report from the Police Regional Office 8 headed by Chief Superintendent Elmer Beltejar.
“As a matter of procedure, this incident will undergo investigation to establish the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident,” Beltejar said. The PNP-CIDG headed by Chief Supt. Roel Obusan is also preparing an official report on the incident.
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.
Reports said at least 15 CIDG agents stormed the place and used bolt-cutters to gain access into Cell No. 1 where Espinosa is being held. The mayor reportedly fired at the officers who retaliated killing him. Yap, also a native of Albuera was shot and killed inside Cell No. 7.
A caliber .45 pistol and a Super .38 pistol were recovered respectively from the possession of Yap and Espinosa, police said. Espinosa’s cell also yielded a small heat-sealed plastic sachet containing suspected shabu and assorted drug paraphernalia.
On the other hand, a search of Yap’s cell resulted in the recovery of 15 plastic packets containing suspected shabu, 27 sachets with dried marijuana leaves and several drug paraphernalia.
The Albuera mayor is the second local government executive to be killed for reportedly fighting authorities. The first was Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao Mayor Samsudin Otto Dimaukon who was shot dead by members of the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group and the Regional Public Safety Battalion 12 in Makilala, North Cotabato.
Dimaukon was killed with nine companions when they allegedly fired on authorities manning a checkpoint in Makilala town. Both mayors were among the local government officials publicly accused by President Rodrigo Duterte of involvement in the illegal drug trade.
Last October 5, Mayor Espinosa was arrested by the police on non-bailable charges of illegal possession of drugs which carries the penalty of life imprisonment and perpetual disqualification from public office, Beltejar said.
The Eastern Visayas police director said that the warrant of arrest for violation of Sections 11 and 28 of RA 9165 was served against the 54-year old mayor by a team of policemen led by Senior Supt. Franco Simborio, the Leyte Police Provincial Office director inside the Albuera Municipal Police Station.
The mayor was detained at the Leyte sub-provincial jail. The cases filed against the Leyte official stemmed from the recovery of 11 kilograms of shabu worth P88 million and components of improvised explosive devices inside the mayor’s house a week after PRO8 agents shot and killed six heavily-armed supporters of the Espinosas inside the mayor’s compound last August 3. Recovered from the possession of the slain suspects were 13 assorted long firearms, four .45 pistols and rifle grenades. The mayor and his son Kerwin, who is now being held in an Abu Dhabi jail denied ownership of the recovered drugs and weapons.
Mayor Espinosa surrendered to Gen. de la Rosa shortly after they were named in the drug list of President Duterte. After he was booted out of Camp Crame on orders of Gen. de la Rosa following his failure to fulfill his promise that he would convince his son to surrender, Espinosa turned himself over to the Albuera Municipal Police Station headed by Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido due to alleged threats on his life.
Espenido immediately ordered his men to guard the mayor round-the-clock so they could immediately arrest him in case the court issues a warrant for his arrest in connection with the recovery of some P88 million worth of shabu in his house.
With Zaida Delos Reyes-Palanca