AGENTS of the Police Regional Office 8 yesterday raided the ancestral house of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. and confiscated around 11 kilograms of suspected shabu valued at P88 million and components being used to manufacture improvised explosive devices, PRO8 director, Chief Superintendent Wilben M. Mayor said.
In a report to Philippine National Police chief, Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. dela Rosa, Beltejar said that members of the Leyte Police Provincial Office, the Regional Public Safety Battalion 8 and the Albuera Municipal Police Station headed by Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido stormed the residence of the beleaguered official in Sitio Tinago II, Barangay Benolho in Albuera 6:20 a.m. yesterday on the strength of a search warrant for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The Eastern Visayas police commander said that the raiders found 11 big packs containing the suspected ‘poor man’s cocaine,’ IED ingredients and components and one dozen set of camouflage uniforms during the raid.
The suspected shabu were found in the house’s kitchen cabinets while the huge volume of ammonium nitrate, blasting caps, black powder and firing wires were discovered in other parts of the residence.
According to Espenido, they managed to secure from a local court the search warrant for violation of RA 9165 against Espinosa after receiving reliable information that a big amount of shabu were being stored in the compound. The official personally picked up by Gen. Dela Rosa to lead the crackdown against drugs in the small Leyte town said they got the information from Espinosa’s own men who were arrested in previous police operations.
Espenido said they are monitoring other houses of the mayor in Albuera amid information that they are also being used to stockpile drugs and illegal weapons.
So far, PNP spokesman, Senior Supt. Dionardo B. Carlos said that charges for violation of Section 5 (Trading of Illegal Drugs) and RAs 10591 and 9516 or illegal possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives have been filed against Espinosa and his son Rolan alias Kerwin before the Office of Provincial Prosecutor Ma. Arlene Cordovez last August 4. Yesterday’s raid means more charges will be filed against the mayor.
An angry Gen. Dela Rosa last Saturday booted out the elder Espinosa and his family from the ‘White House,’ the official residence of the Chief, PNP in Camp Crame after his son Kerwin failed to beat the deadline offered to him by the top cop to surrender last Friday night.
Carlos said that the Espinosa family took a 7:30 a.m. Saturday Philippine Airlines flight for Leyte. However, they ended up being seen in Cebu.
The plight of the Espinosas came a few days after six of his heavily-armed supporters were killed in shootouts outside the residences of the mayor in Bgy. Benolho. Beltejar said officers led by Espenido were on routine patrol in Sitio Tinago when they were fired upon by the suspects around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday last week.
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.
The clash came barely 12 hours after Gen. Dela Rosa presented Mayor Espinosa to the press in Camp Crame and warned him his son ‘will die’ if he elects to shoot it out with the police.
“The mayor left the camp after his son Kerwin failed to surface at Camp Crame,” said Carlos.
A visibly irked Dela Rosa last Friday gave Kerwin to surrender within the day or he will order the suspect’s family led by his father to leave the ‘White House’ and fend for themselves.
The fighting top cop booted out the mayor, his partner and their kid out of the ‘White House’ after Kerwin failed to beat his Friday evening ultimatum. 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.
The PNP chief also complained that he cannot take anymore the cigarette order at the room where the chain-smoking Espinosas stayed for days. The room was actually reserved for the general’s son.
The mayor said he has no knowledge on the present whereabouts of his son. He even said that he last talked with his son on May 7, or two days before the local elections.
Dela Rosa said his order remains: police will shoot Kerwin in case he resists arrest and is found to be armed.’ “He will die if he is armed and he will fight us.”