POLICE want the son of slain Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., suspected Eastern Visayas drug lord Kerwin Espinosa -- to spill the beans on his protectors in government and law enforcement agencies as soon as he is brought to Manila from Abu Dhabi to face the charges against him in court.
“We want Kerwin to give his full knowledge on his illegal drug activities, his protectors included since only drug lords know who are the persons protecting them,” said PNP officer-in-charge, Deputy Director General Francisco A. Uyami Jr.
Uyami said they also have no information if Kerwin has already been informed of the death of his father during a reported gunbattle with agents of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group inside his prison cell in Baybay City, Leyte.
But he assured that on orders of PNP chief, Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. dela Rosa, the young Espinosa will be given full security to protect him from any harm as soon as he is deported back to Manila.
Last August 4, Gen. de la Rosa gave Kerwin an ultimatum to surrender within the day or he will order the suspect’s family to leave Camp Crame particularly the official residence of the top cop called ‘White House.’ The PNP chief ordered the mayor out of his official residence the following day when Kerwin failed to show up.
The young Espinosa fled the country for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last June 21 on board a Cebu Pacific flight reportedly out of fear he will be targeted for neutralization by the police.
Days after the late mayor was ordered out of Camp Crame, police commandos clashed with armed Espinosa’s bodyguards inside his properties, killing six of the suspects who were found in possession of a cache of high-powered weapons and ammunition.
Police Regional Office 8 director, Chief Superintendent Elmer Beltejar said members of the Albuera Municipal Police Station and the Regional Public Safety Battalion 8 led by Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido were on routine patrol in Sitio Tinago in Barangay Binolho when they were fired upon by the suspects.
Beltejar said the officers returned fire killing six suspects who were found in possession of 13 long firearms, four caliber .45 pistols and rifle grenades. One of the fatalities was identified as Ricky Gratillo, an Albuera native said to be a former New People’s Army guerrilla.
Police also seized an estimated 237 grams of shabu worth P1.9 million during a buy-bust operation near the houses of the Espinosas. The sting also resulted in the arrest of five employees of the two Espinosas.
The PNP chief previously called on the young Espinosa to surrender peacefully. “If you are listening, you should follow your father. Mamatay ka talaga and your life is really in danger,” he said.
The top cop said that he was told by Mayor Espinosa that his son is getting his drug supplies from Peter Co, a suspected drug lord currently detained at the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City and another convicted Chinese drug lord being held at the Abuyog Penal Colony in Leyte.
“I have ordered an investigation into the claims of Mayor Espinosa regarding the suppliers of the drugs being peddled by his son,” he said.
What is clear is that the mayor has been listed as a ‘drug protector’ while his son Kerwin is a ‘drug lord’ on the list of President Duterte.
Officials said Kerwin is a moneyed man since he was able to bring his family with him in Dubai where he rented an exclusive flat for 300,000 Dirham or roughly P3.9 million a month. Not only that, he gave a one-year deposit worth 3.6 million Dirham which is equivalent to P46.8 million.
“We found out that he rented the place for that huge amount of money and was required to pay a one-year deposit worth nearly P47 million,” said PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group director, Senior Supt. Albert Ignatius D. Ferro..
The official said Espinosa was with his wife Hazel and three children when arrested by Abu Dhabi authorities at 901 Mubarak Tower located at Sheik Khalifa Street in downtown Abu Dhabi.
“We got word that Kerwin Espinosa flew out of the country with his family since he is very much worried he would be targeted for assassination by persons who have been protecting him. This is the reason why we need to fully secure him once he is returned to The Philippines,” Ferro said.
Ferro said information from some Overseas Filipino Workers sent to Gen. dela Rosa led to the whereabouts of Espinosa. He also confirmed known whistleblower Sandra Cam’s claim that her employee in Abu Dhabi tipped off Kerwin Espinosa’s whereabouts. Cam said that her staff called her after spotting Espinosa at a building in the United Arab Emirates capital where Cam operates a small manpower business.
“Cam’s employee spotted Kerwin while cleaning the elevator. We learned that Cam’s employees were assigned at Mubarak Tower’s 7th floor,” the official said. Cam said that Espinosa may reveal 12 “big names” who were allegedly involved in illegal drug trade including “governors, congressmen, mayors and police generals.”
The whistleblower also insinuated these officials are most likely part of the previous Aquino administration. Cam said that last October 8, she received a call from one of her employees who claimed she spotted Espinosa inside the building where she’s working.
Cam said her staff sent her a photo of Espinosa who was with a Filipina nurse. According to Cam, she then passed on the information to President Duterte’s special assistant Bong Go after receiving confirmation from the immigration bureau in Abu Dhabi.
At present, Abu Dhabi authorities are investigating Espinosa for violation of immigration laws while hiding in the oil-rich city. Ferro said that they will fly back to Abu Dhabi to escort Espinosa to Manila as soon as they got official word regarding his repatriation from the Philippine Embassy.
Officials said Espinosa could be released in a month’s time.