DETAINED suspected Eastern Visayas drug lord Kerwin Espinosa has backtracked on his accusations against the avid Bible-reading police chief in his hometown whom he accused last week of committing irregularities, Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. de la Rosa said yesterday.
According to the PNP chief, Kerwin, who is still being held at the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group headquarters in Camp Crame, told him in a meeting last Saturday night that Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido, the chief of police of Albuera, Leyte did not receive drug money from him.
“In fairness to him (Espenido), dahan dahang binabawi ni Kerwin yung sinasabi niya. Sabi ni Kerwin the other night, kinausap ko, sabi niya ‘Sa totoo lang sir, matino na pulis ‘yang si Espenido,’” the top cop told newsmen at Camp Crame.
Kerwin’s father Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. was unharmed while under the custody of Espenido but days after he was transferred to the Leyte Sub-Provincial Jail in Baybay City, he was shot dead by agents of the 8th Regional Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit along with another drug inmate. All officers and men involved in the controversial prison raid have been ordered transferred to Camp Crame where they are undergoing administrative investigation.
However, the PNP chief said that Kerwin mentioned to him that Espenido received money from him to help support their church and not fatten his pocket.
“It’s not for his (Espenido’s) personal use. Ang sabi ni Kerwin, one time or two times na tumanggap siya ng pera para daw panggastos sa simbahan nila,” he said.
Kerwin, according to Gen. de la Rosa, has virtually cleared Espenido. “Sabi niya nadadawit lang si Espenido pero malinis daw yung hepe nila,” he said.
The PNP chief also said that he was told by Kerwin that Espenido would often reply to his text messages with verses from the Bible. “‘Pag tini-text daw niya (Kerwin) ang sagot sa kanya ay puro Biblical verses, ayaw daw kumagat sa drug money,” he said.
De la Rosa said that after his meeting with Kerwin and a phone conversation with Espenido last Sunday night, his confidence in the police major has returned and he won’t put him under restrictive custody unlike more than a dozen police officers and men identified by Kerwin as being under his monthly ‘payroll’ last week.
“Wala akong ginawang aksyon sa kanya dahil nga undergoing investigation. Hindi ko muna siya ni-restrict lalo na ngayon na binawi ni Kerwin ‘yung pagkasabi niya na ganun ayaw magpa-corrupt na opisyal kaya the more na naniniwala ako sa kanya.”
Last week, the top copl asked the citizenry to help them in their massive effort to unmask, arrest and jail rogues in police uniform known for tarnishing the image of the majority of the 160,000-strong force.
The member of Philippine Military Academy ‘Sinagtala’ Class of 1986 literally broke down last Wednesday when Kerwin spilled the beans on a number of police officers and men who are literally under his monthly payroll but the following day came bouncing back and challenged misfits and scalawags in the organization whom he said are linking hands to oust him to come out in the open and fight him squarely.
“I am ready for a gun duel, a knife fight, a boxing match, even mixed martial arts. I won’t back out from these cowards,” the PNP chief declared even as he called on the public to give them information about the presence of hoodlums in uniform specifically those involved directly or indirectly in illegal drug trafficking and abuse.
The top cop earlier warned rogue police officers and men to “mend up your ways or find yourself in jail or buried six feet under if they will try to put up an armed resistance while being arrested by their colleagues.”
“I am appealing to the public, please help us police our ranks as there are still many scalawags using the war on drugs to make money,” de la Rosa had said as he issued a grim warning to rogues in the police service particularly those taking advantage of the war against drugs to extort money from people, innocent or not that “I will break your necks, literally.” -30-