LOOT, GARBO LINKED TO ESPINOSA
Retired police generals Vicente Loot and Marcelino Garbo were named anew as alleged protectors of drug lords, this time of father and son tandem, Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. of Albuera, Leyte, and his son, Rolando Jr. or “Kerwin.”
Loot, now mayor of Daanbantayan town in Cebu, was named in a police intelligence report dated May 31, 2016 as the alleged handler of Kerwin, tagged as the number one drug lord operating in Eastern Visayas and identified as one of the priority targets in the war on illegal drugs declared by then incoming President Rodrigo Duterte. The files of the intelligence report were forwarded to Mr. Duterte after he assumed office last June 30.
Loot yesterday branded the report as “too much.”
In a phone interview, Loot said he personally did not know Kerwin, who is now being hunted by authorities and was reported to have left the country last June.
“I don’t know Kerwin from Adam. I don’t know the guy or had seen his face. I only heard about him, but never in my life did I personally meet nor communicated with him,” Loot told Cebu Daily News.
He said he heard about Kerwin in 2010 when operatives of the Regional Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (RAIDSOTF) in Central Visayas informed him they would serve an arrest warrant against the younger Espinosa for peddling illegal drugs in Cebu City. Loot was then deputy regional director for operations of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7). The operation, however, failed because policemen could not locate Kerwin.
In 2011, when he was the deputy regional director for administration of the PRO in Eastern Visayas, Loot said he was informed by the intelligence division that Kerwin was by then operating in Leyte.
“I was even instrumental in Kerwin’s arrest,” Loot said, as he was the one who provided the intelligence agents a copy of Kerwin’s pending arrest warrant.
Police found Kerwin in Ormoc City and shot him in the stomach when he tried to kill members of the raiding team. Kerwin survived, and Loot wasn’t sure if a case was filed against the suspect. “I wasn’t handling that case. It was R2’s (Intelligence Division) case,” he said.
Loot said that contrary to the May 31, 2016 intelligence report, he was not among those who visited Kerwin in detention.
“I’m really shocked with what this intelligence reports says (sic). The records are there. You can check with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology to find out whether or not the report is true,” he said.
Loot denied recruiting Kerwin as a police asset when he was head of the Regional Anti-Narcotics Unit in Central Visayas (Ranu-7).
“I was with Ranu in 2000. Now let me ask this question: How old was Kerwin at that time?” he asked.
Kerwin, now 34 years old, was 18 when Loot was chief of Ranu-7.
Loot also considered as “foul” accusations that Ranu-7 used Kerwin to recycle confiscated drugs back into the market.
“That’s very malicious. Definitely not true. Fabricated,” he said.
Loot believed there were people who only wanted to put him down by creating false scenarios. “They want to link me to something that is contrary to facts. The intelligence report you are talking about is fabricated by persons who want to please whoever. It’s too much,” he said.
When he was named drug coddler by President Rodrigo Duterte, Loot said he and his family were badly affected.
“Even our credit line in the bank is affected. Now, we could hardly secure loans from the bank. Not to mention is how these accusations destroyed the reputation I built for 37 years (as a policeman),” he said.
Loot, who retired from the police service in July 2015, said he has some people in mind whom he believed were out to destroy him, but he said he could not name them in the absence of sufficient evidence.
“Naay nagpasikat; gusto magpagwapo at my expense. (Something wants to please someone. They want to look good at my expense),” he said.
Loot said he would want to file libel charges against those who ruined his reputation.
“I wanted to do it, but who shall I implead?” he said.
Loot knew he could not sue Duterte while the latter is president, and authors of the intelligence reports that linked him to Kerwin remains anonymous.
Loot said he intends to write a letter to Philippine National Police Chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa to explain everything.
“I want him (dela Rosa) to appreciate the facts,” he said.
Garbo, on the other hand, has completely shied away from any public appearance since he was named by President Duterte as one of the five generals allegedly protecting drug lords.
CDN yesterday tried to contact Garbo through his phone, but he didn’t answer the calls.
Meanwhile, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA-7) Director Yogi Filemon Ruiz said they would continue to check reports that Kerwin might just be in Cebu.
Immigration sources yesterday told Inquirer that Kerwin left for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, last June 21 on board Flight 5J501 via Cebu Pacific. The source said Kerwin still has no flight record, meaning he has not returned to the country.
Kerwin is among the top 10 drug personalities being monitored by PDEA in Central and Eastern Visayas. He operated since early 2000 in Cebu City, where he was born and had lived until 2009, when he transferred to Leyte, where his alleged illegal drug business thrived, according to Ruiz.
Ruiz said Kerwin is the counterpart of the slain Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz, Central Visayas’ top drug personality.
“Kerwin is a drug lord who gets his supply of illegal drugs from a Chinese man,” he said.
Ruiz said they would also request the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to investigate and freeze bank accounts linked to Kerwin.
The intelligence report furnished to the Radyo Inquirer news chief Arlyn dela Cruz claimed Kerwin was recruited as a police asset when Loot headed Ranu-7. He was later allegedly used to recycle confiscated drugs.
Kerwin remained an asset of the Police Regional Office 7 (PRO-7) when Loot was promoted as its director for personnel and Garbo was assigned as its chief of staff.
“Shared asset nina Garbo at Loot si Kerwin sa PRO-7. Alam ng lahat ng nasa region yan,” the source said.
From PRO-7’s chief of staff, Garbo was promoted as Deputy Regional Director for Operations (DRDO). As such, he assumed direct supervision of the RAID-Special Operations Task Force. Kerwin was among those retained as an asset in Garbo’s office — a “fixture” according the police source.
Garbo meets ‘Jaguar’
It was during Garbo’s time as DRDO for Region 7 that he was allegedly introduced to Jaguar, and the link between Garbo and Jaguar led to a change of assignment for Kerwin. From Region 7, Kerwin was tasked to expand his operations to Eastern Visayas where he became the biggest drug distributor.
“Iba yung kay ‘Jaguar’ pero yung kay Kerwin, tuloy-tuloy lang ang pagbibigay ng pera sa mga heneral na may hawak sa kanya, lalong-lalo na doon sa original handler niya, si General Loot,” the police source added.
Camotes Island in northern Cebu was identified as the pick up point of the illegal drugs distributed by the Kerwin Espinosa Drug Syndicate. The pickup and distribution were done weekly with 42-50 kilos, or about 200 kilos per month, with an estimated value of P300-million per month.
This made it easy for Kerwin to finance his father’s electoral bid during the last elections and Espinosa’s eventual victory as mayor of Albuera, the source claimed.
Mayor Espinosa was among the 32 local executives mentioned as alleged protectors and distributors of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride). The list includes names of barangay chairmen, councilors, vice mayor, mayors, congressmen and a governor.
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