JOURNAL Group sources yesterday confirmed that Kerwin Espinosa, the wanted son of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. left the country for Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia last June 21 and is yet to return to Manila since then.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, highly-placed sources said the young Espinosa took a Cebu Pacific flight on his way to Kuala Lumpur purportedly after hearing reports that he was already the subject of a no-nonsense police investigation.
Meanwhile PNP chief Director General Roland ‘Bato’ de la Rosa said Kerwin has sent word he will surrender to him after returning to Manila.
Although the PNP chief did not give any details, he said that the 36-year-old Espinosa sent surrender feelers after learning of the latest development in their hometown in Albuera, Leyte where six of their heavily-armed men were killed in a gunbattle with the local police last Wednesday.
According to De la Rosa, Kerwin’s father, Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. had told them that he had received a phone call from a sibling informing him that Kerwin will be returning to Manila and will turn himself in to the police.
The PNP chief said he will personally pick up Kerwin at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and bring him to the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group headquarters where he is expected to undergo questioning and submit his formal statement.
On Wednesday morning police commandos clashed with armed bodyguards of Mayor Espinosa right inside his properties killing six of the suspects who were found in possession of a cache of high-powered weapons and ammunition, a report to Gen. de la Rosa said.
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 around 5:30 a.m. Wednsday.
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.
Beltejar and Leyte Provincial Police Office director, Senior Supt. Franco Simborio however said that Espinosa’s son Kerwin was not among those killed in the gunfight.
SANCTION VS DRUG-LINKED EXECS
Gen. de la Rosa yesterday said he will recommend the withdrawal of Napolcom deputation of mayors with links to illegal drugs.
He also said that the PNP will take similar actions against local official who are “uncooperative” in the anti-illegal drugs campaign of the police.
De la Rosa said these errant local executives have “no moral ascendancy to exercise supervision and control over the local police forces if they themselves are involved in drugs.”
Malacañang earlier announced there are 27 local executives with suspected drug links.
The PNP has convened its national and regional Oversight Committees that will assess and evaluate the drug situation in cities and municipalities with particular emphasis on the categorization of these LGUs in terms of drug affectation; documentation of arrested/ surrendered pushers and users; internal cleansing efforts; Top 20 watchlist of drug personalities killed or arrested; and local government executives and officials not cooperating in the campaign against illegal drugs.
The Department of Interior and Local Government also warned governors and mayors that they will be charged with neglect of duty if they fail to address the problem of illegal drugs in their areas.
DILG Secretary Mike Sueno also said that “inept” local executives may also lose their Napolcom deputation which gives them direct operational supervision and control over police units in their jurisdiction.