Kerwin Espinosa wants to know why his dad was killed in prison
While government authorities want to get to the bottom of what really happened Saturday dawn in the killing of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. inside his prison cell, the dreaded drug lord of Eastern Visayas, Kerwin Espinosa — the mayor’s son — is himself, begging for answers.
“Nganong si Daddy man nga wa man siyay labot (Why did they kill Daddy when he was not involved)?” a source quoted Kerwin as shouting over the phone after he was told that his father had been killed by policemen while in detention at the Leyte Sub-Provincial jail.
Kerwin, who was arrested in Abu Dhabi last Oct. 17, was not able to consume his allowed three-minute phone call after he couldn’t stop crying.
A staff member of the Espinosa family, who asked not to be named, told Cebu Daily News that Kerwin called him up on Saturday afternoon to inquire about his father.
At that time, the source said he was at the morgue of St. Peter’s Funeral Homes in Ormoc City, Leyte to attend to the body of the slain mayor.
When he was told that his father was killed by members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Eastern Visayas (CIDG-8), the source said Kerwin started crying over the phone.
What followed was a series of loud sobs before the line went dead, he added.
“No words were spoken. All we heard were sobs; sounds of grief and lamentation,” was how Kerwin’s aunt Emma described her nephew’s reaction when he learned of his father’s death.
“Pinangga kaayo na niya ang iyang daddy. Pero at least karon nakahibaw na siya (Kerwin loves his daddy so much. We did not want to tell him the bad news. But at least, now he knows),” Emma said.
Kerwin is awaiting extradition following his arrest in Abu Dhabi last month.
Emma said the date of the internment had yet to be finalized since the family was waiting for the mayor’s other siblings from the United States to return to the Philippines on Nov. 20.
By then, they also hoped that Kerwin would be brought back to the country.
“We will work things out as a family,” said Emma, wife of Mayor Espinosa’s older brother Ramon.
According to a CDN source, Kerwin called up again on Sunday, this time looking for Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido, the Albuera police chief.
The source said he was surprised because before Mayor Espinosa was killed, Kerwin was mad at Espenido and had accused the police chief of being under their payroll when the latter was assigned in Davao City.
It was Espenido who convinced Mayor Espinosa to execute an affidavit and identify those who protected his son’s operation.
In exchange for his cooperation, the police chief guaranteed the mayor’s safety.
Espinosa kept his end of the bargain and gave a list of 226 names whom he claimed were either part of or protected his son’s illegal drug trade.
Espenido placed Espinosa under his protective custody and allowed him to stay in his office until Oct. 5 when the mayor was brought to the sub-provincial jail in Baybay City, Leyte after an arrest warrant was issued against him for charges of illegal possession of firearms and drugs.
Heads have started to roll following the killing of Mayor Espinosa inside his cell.
In the wake of the police investigation being conducted, Supt. Marvin Marcos was relieved as head of CIDG-8 effective Monday.
Chief Insp. Ma. Bella Rentuaya, information officer of the Police Regional Office in Eastern Visayas (PRO-8), said Marcos’ relief was ordered by the CIDG headquarters.
Camp Crame also issued a “guideline,” directing all members of the police organization to “refrain” from issuing any statement regarding the incident, Rentuaya said.
“There is a guideline issued for all PNP to refrain from issuing views or comments, pro or against, about the incident as an investigation is under way,” she said.
Espinosa, 54, was gunned down Saturday dawn after he allegedly engaged members of a CIDG raiding team, armed with a search warrant, in a gunfight inside his cell.
Also killed was Raul Yap, a native of Albuera town who was detained for drug peddling. The mayor was shot in the head, chest and stomach while Yap suffered bullet wounds in the stomach.
The death of Espinosa came as a shock to Chief Supt. Elmer Beltejar, police director for Eastern Visayas, who said that CIDG-8 failed to coordinate with his office.
Beltejar immediately ordered a probe to determine if proper procedure was followed during the implementation of the warrant.
A team from the CIDG in Manila arrived on Sunday to conduct their investigation on the killing of Espinosa and Yap.
In a press conference at the House of Representatives on Monday, former police general turned congressman, Rep. Romeo Acop of Antipolo said the Espinosa slay was a clear case of summary killing based on reports he read and some first-hand information.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr., meanwhile, labelled Espinosa’s death as “cold-blooded murder”.
Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla said he was calling for a “separate and independent” probe on the incident.
The National Bureau of Investigation, Petilla added, could look into the supposed raid and subsequent death of Espinosa to “dispel any innuendos and to assure the public that it would be a fair and transparent investigation.”
The governor also ordered the provincial administration office to conduct its own probe on the matter.
Sought for comment on reports that tagged him as one of the 226 persons who allegedly received payola from Espinosa, Petilla said that he met the mayor only once — on June 27 during the mass oath-taking of newly elected officials in the province at the Leyte Academic Center in Palo town.
“But prior to this meeting, he wanted to join our party (Liberal Party) when he ran for mayor which I rejected considering the issue ,” Petilla said, referring to Espinosa’s reported involvement in illegal drugs.
For her part, Senator Leila de Lima on Monday again brushed aside charges that she was involved in the illegal drug operations of Kerwin.
“Nakakatawa na po sila (They are ridiculous). They are so absurd to the point of being pathetic already,” she told a news conference in Manila.
Citing a report from Cebu Daily News, De Lima said that based on CDN’s interview with Espinosa’s brother, Ramon, the slain mayor was only compelled to sign an affidavit made by the police to drag her and other government officers into the illegal drugs operation of Kerwin.
De Lima said that the published claim of Ramon only proved that the accusations leveled against her by the administration were false and unworthy of belief.
Meanwhile, Rhoda Magale, common-law wife of Mayor Espinosa, claimed that two expensive rings and a watch which the mayor wore while in jail were missing.
One ring cost P200,000 while the other was worth P75,000.
His watch, a Casio G-Shock, was worth P70,000 said Magale.
She told the Inquirer that she took the jewelry to the mayor after he was brought to jail because he wanted to wear these, but when they collected the mayor’s remains, they could no longer be found.
Magale, however, clarified that she was not accusing the CIDG of stealing the jewelry.
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