The Emirates is no haven for Kerwin

By: Malou Guanzon Apalisok November 14,2016 - 08:32 PM

Less than a month after he was arrested in Abu Dhabi, Kerwin Espinosa, the alleged biggest drug lord of Eastern Visayas, is expected to arrive in Manila on Thursday to face charges linking him to the illegal drugs trade.

Philippine Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Constancio Vingno, Jr. told UAE media in Abu Dhabi that Espinosa looked physically OK, but he looked distraught and feared for his life after hearing what happened to his father, Albuera town Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.

The elder Espinosa was shot dead inside his cell in the sub-provincial jail in Baybay City, Leyte last November 5 or a month after he was arrested for illegal possession of drugs and firearms during a raid in his house in Albuera. Father and son were the first personalities named by President Rodrigo Duterte as having links to the illegal drugs trade in August.

The relative speed of Kerwin’s extradition is a boost to the Duterte administration’s brutal campaign against drugs, and he has to thank the Philippines’ extradition treaty with the Emirates, as the UAE is sometimes called.

Reports say the Emirates has extradition agreements with 33 other countries in keeping with the UAE’s declared policy to keep off overseas criminals from the territory. An online article quoting an expert on UAE law said extradition treaties “make it clear to criminals that there is no haven in the UAE”. Dr. Mustafa Alani of the Gulf Research Center said that extradition agreements “send the message that criminals can’t hide in the UAE.”

In fact, even minus an extradition agreement, the Emirates is quick to cooperate if a criminal is wanted by a foreign government. In the case of Kerwin Espinosa, I don’t recall that a local court had authorized the application of his extradition so that the process of repatriating Espinosa went through the International Police. Interpol simply provided a “red notice” for the fugitive, a “timbre” or alert for the national police forces to locate or identify the person as a first step to his arrest and extradition.

By the way, Ambassador Vingno also told UAE media that Kerwin has requested that his wife and three children fly with him. This is the first time I heard that Kerwin was hiding together with his family in Abu Dhabi. It will be worth watching if the presence of his wife and three children would ensure his safety, and that he will not suffer the same fate as his father’s who was under heavy guard inside the prison walls of Baybay City at the time he was killed.

*****

Three years after Super Typhoon Yolanda (International name, Haiyan) lashed at Eastern and Western Visayas including northern Cebu, it seems to me the devastation (more than P570 billion in damage to private property and public infrastructure including lost economic opportunities) and painful memories (24,000 people killed according to feedback from Leyte and Samar) wrought by the strongest typhoon ever to hit the planet are gradually fading in the background and in its stead, we hear of many heartfelt stories of charity as wellspring of hope and faith strengthened in the midst of utter desolation.

The moving stories are captured in words and pictures in the book, “Haiyan the Aftermath: Images and Stories of Recovery in Samar and Leyte written by Lucien Y. Letaba. Lucien worked closely with the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC), an institute of the Society of the Divine Word, the same congregation who runs the University of San Carlos.

The book revisits the path of the tragedy and the experience of some 40 survivors whom Letaba interviewed face to face. Like most people who went to Leyte, Samar and northern Cebu to offer their time and resources to help in the recovery and restoration of peoples and communities, Letaba’s engagement with the survivors has changed his life forever.

In the aftermath of Yolanda, it is heartwarming to note that local government units and NGO’s have begun adapting to climate change.

I was in San Fernando town last week to cover the basic seminar on disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) sponsored by Cebu People’s Cooperative in collaboration with the Provincial DRRM office. DRRM 101 is an offshoot of the experience of co-op members in Bogo and Daanbantayan, home to some 2,000 co-op members whose homes and business establishment were flattened by the super typhoon.

Because officers and members were caught flatfooted by the extent of the damage, the first responders made do with simple and practical interventions like bringing basic supplies to the affected areas including a power generator set for people to charge their cell phones. In the ensuing two to three years of recovery and restoration, some 10,000 household members have found their communities and lives transformed even as they look up to the future with bright hope. (To be continued)

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TAGS: Abu Dhabi, Albuera, Baybay, Bogo, cellphone, Daanbantayan, drugs, Duterte, east visayas, Eastern Visayas, Espinosa, extradition, Haiyan, illegal drug trade, illegal drugs, Kerwin Espinosa, Leyte, Rodrigo Duterte, Rolando Espinosa, Rolando Espinosa Jr., Rolando Espinosa Sr, treaty, UAE, United Arab Emirates, Yolanda

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