‘2 cops talked to mayor inside his cell before he was killed’

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Robert Dejon November 09,2016 - 12:10 AM
PNP Chief Gen. Ronald Dela Rosa presents to media Mayor Rolado Espinosa of Leyte  (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO).

PNP Chief Gen. Ronald Dela Rosa presents to media Mayor Rolado Espinosa of Leyte (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO).

Palo, Leyte — Minutes before Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. of Albuera town, Leyte was killed, two members of the raiding team went inside his cell and talked to him.

Inmates in the adjacent cell were transferred to another cell. Then shots were fired and Espinosa lay on the floor, bleeding.

The accounts were part of the initial findings of the Provincial Internal Affairs Service (PIAS) in Leyte that looked into the death of Espinosa, who was killed while in detention at the sub-provincial jail in Baybay City, Leyte.

Chief Supt. Elmer Beltejar, police director for Eastern Visayas, ordered the Regional Internal Affairs Service (RIAS) to conduct an investigation on what happened after the PIAS report contradicted with the claim of the Criminal Investigation Group in Eastern Visayas (CIDG-8) that Espinosa fired at the raiding team when he was served the search warrant about 3 a.m. of Nov. 5.

The PIAS report stemmed from a moto propio investigation on the killing of Espinosa and another inmate, Raul Yap inside their cells at the sub-provincial jail in Barangay Hipusngo, Baybay City.

Based on the PIAS report, CIDG-8 team led by Chief Insp. Leo D. Laraga arrived at the facility about 3:20 a.m. last Saturday.

When one of the jail guards was about to open the gate, the raiding team barged in and ordered them and the four provincial policemen tasked to secure Espinosa to kneel and face the wall.

They were also disarmed while the raiding team went to cells number 1 and 7 where Espinosa and Yap were detained.

The five inmates of Yap were transferred to another cell, leaving Yap alone with the policemen. They later heard gunshots.

Inmates in cell number 2 which was adjacent to the cell where Espinosa was detained, were also transferred another cell.

They told the PIAS that they saw two armed men going inside Espinosa’s cell and talked to the mayor.

Then they heard gunshots. The provincial police told PIAS the Scene of the Crime Operatives arrived at 7 a.m. but was only allowed to get inside the crime scene three hours later.

Provincial Jail Warden Homobono Bardillon also told investigators that their Network Video Recorder for their 16 channels of their CCTV and two unit switches were taken by the CIDG before they left the facility.

The death of Espinosa sowed fear among his family members who were now asking protection since they too might be killed.

Emma Espinosa, the wife of Mayor Espinosa’s older brother Ramon, said they have not seen even a single policeman nor a barangay tanod at the local chief executive’s wake at his house in Barangay Tinago, Albuera.

“We are scared. Who wouldn’t be?” she told the Inquirer over the phone yesterday.

“If mayor was killed inside the jail, it is not far that it will also happen to us who are outside,” she added.

Emma and her husband Ramon wanted Mayor Espinosa’s wake to be held in Cebu City where their family came from but said they still had to confer with the mayor’s immediate family.

Among Espinosa’s six siblings, only Ramon and their younger sister Janet have so far arrived in Leyte.

Emma said the date of internment has yet to be finalized since they are still waiting for the slain executive’s siblings from the United States to return to the Philippines on Nov. 20.

By then, the family also hoped that Kerwin will be brought by the police back to the country.

“We will work things out as a family,” said Emma.

Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, director of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), said they are willing to provide security to Emma’s family when they return to Cebu.

“We just have to assess the situation. Even if they won’t have any request, we still could provide them with security should the need arise,” he said on Tuesday.

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TAGS: Albuera, Baybay, Baybay City, CIDG, CIDG 8, Criminal Investigation Group, Criminal Investigation Group in Eastern Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Espinosa, Hipusngo, killing, Leyte, Palo, PIAS, Police Regional Office, Police Regional Office in Central Visayas, PRO, PRO 7, Provincial Internal Affairs Service, Rolando Espinosa, Rolando Espinosa Sr, shooting, Tinago

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