‘SOP’

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Inquirer November 23,2016 - 11:18 PM
TEARS OF FRUSTRATION. Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, frustrated over the corruption in the PNP, cries during the second Senate inquiry into the killing of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. held on Nov. 23, 2016. At right, Espinosa’s son, suspected drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, hands him some tissue paper. (INQUIRER PHOTO/LYN RILLON)

TEARS OF FRUSTRATION. Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, frustrated over the corruption in the PNP, cries during the second Senate inquiry into the killing of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. held on Nov. 23, 2016. At right, Espinosa’s son, suspected drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, hands him some tissue paper. (INQUIRER PHOTO/LYN RILLON)

Kerwin Espinosa exposes how it has become a standard operating procedure (SOP) for him to spend millions of pesos in  drug money to buy the protection of police officers, their middle men and government officials.

The culture of corruption has taken deep roots in the Philippine National Police (PNP) that giving out drug protection money, starting with those from the lower ranks all the way to generals, has become a standard.

The so-called SOP, short for “standard operating procedure,” is so pervasive in the PNP, if Eastern Visayas’ top drug lord Kerwin Espinosa were to be believed, as he bared the names of former and incumbent police officials who took drug money from him.

Testifying before the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs yesterday, Kerwin narrated how millions of pesos were funneled to top ranking policemen and their underlings to keep them “happy,” including the giving of a P120,000 monthly payola in 2012 to retired police general and now Mayor Vicente Loot of Daanbantayan, Cebu through Chief Insp. Leo Laraga of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Eastern Visayas (CIDG-8).

Laraga was the same police officer who led the police team that killed Kerwin’s father, Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., when they raided his detention cell at the sub-provincial jail in Baybay City on Nov. 5.

The SOP, Kerwin revealed, was not just limited to the police but also included local officials in Leyte. In the case of the residents of Albuera, he said he and his late father had been generous to them, as a means of sharing the wealth derived from the drugs trade.

Sen. Leila de Lima, who Kerwin claimed during the Senate hearing to have received a total of P8 million from him through her former driver-bodyguard Ronnie Dayan, on the other hand, opted against quizzing Kerwin, saying that his revelation is a “nice script” and a “total fabrication.” (see separate story)

Kerwin also told of sharing drug supplies with policemen who themselves were drug pushers, using the drugs supplied to him by alleged top drug traders that included Cebuano businessman Peter Lim.

Efforts to reach Lim for comment were left unanswered. Instead, Lim’s legal counsel, Pedro Leslie Salva, gave a short answer when asked to comment on Kerwin’s revelations.

“Hearsay,” he said in a text message to CDN.

He refused to answer phone calls. When asked to elaborate on his response, Salva texted back: “??”

Loot, who was then the deputy director for administration of the Regional Police Office in Eastern Visayas, when called by Cebu Daily News, once again belied any drug links, insisting he did not even know Laraga.

“There is no Leo Laraga assigned under me. I don’t remember knowing him personally or was assigned under me,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte is photographed with Cebuano businessman Peter Lim when they attended the wedding of the daughter of their common friend, Fernando “Ding”  Borja, in Cebu on July 17, 2016. (Photo from FACTS Against Ignorance Facebook account)

President Rodrigo Duterte is photographed with Cebuano businessman Peter Lim when they attended the wedding of the daughter of their common friend, Fernando “Ding” Borja, in Cebu on July 17, 2016. (Photo from FACTS Against Ignorance Facebook account)

Loot said he is set to file charges against Kerwin and the other persons who implicated him in the drug trade, adding that filing charges against these persons is the first step to vindicate himself.

“I will start with filing of charges against those who used my name in collecting drug money. This will now be the opportunity for me to clear my name,” he said in a text message to CDN.

I am a victim of influence peddling by unscrupulous people. When a person has the rank, position, influence and credibility, his name is easily peddled and sold to law breakers by scalawags in the service or persons with personal interests,” he said.

But to Kerwin, the death two other Cebuano drug “distributors” like him — Rowen “Yawa” Secretaria on Banacon Island in Getafe, Bohol last May 28 and of Jeffry “Jaguar” Diaz in Las Piñas City last July 17 — were part of the “cleansing” operation of alleged narco-policemen who would want to silence them before President Rodrigo Duterte could assume office and uncover the scalawags in uniform.

Kerwin revealed the SOP was also practiced in the PNP in Cebu but he said he would not know who got them since they were taken care of by Jaguar.

Kerwin said the deaths of Yawa and Jaguar were the reason why he flee the country, two days after Jaguar was killed, because he feared he would be next, given the fact that there were so many policemen who had received SOP from him.

Kerwin’s tale of how extensive the corruption in PNP appeared to overwhelm Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa who, seated beside Kerwin during the Senate hearing, broke down in tears as he lamented the loss of public trust on the PNP and the difficulty of fighting illegal drugs in the country.

“Your honor, I can’t blame the public if they are losing trust and confidence on the police because I, myself sabi ko nga, hindi mo na minsan alam kung sino ang pagkakatiwalan (I no longer know whom to trust),” Dela Rosa told the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs when Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri asked how he could clean the ranks of the police.

Zubiri noted that in the documents that President Duterte had shown them, many of the personalities allegedly involved in illegal drugs are PNP officials and personnel.

“Minsan, your honor, pinapasa-Diyos ko na lang ang sitwasyon namin sa PNP. Gusto ko lang ma-reform ang PNP… Pero ako’y hirap na hirap na (Sometimes, I just raised to God our situation in the PNP. I only want reforms in the PNP. But it’s getting harder),” Dela Rosa said in between sobs.

“But I will never surrender . Sabi ko nga sa inyo, if you survived pre-board in the PMA (Philippine Military Academy), you will survive the world .

Kaya ko ito. Hindi ko ito uurungan. Lilinisin ko ang PNP hangga’t sa makakaya ko (As I have told you, if you survived pre-board in the PMA, then you can survive the world. I can do this. I will not back down. I will reform the PNP as long as I can),” he said.

Addressing Duterte, the PNP chief promised to stick with him in the fight against illegal drugs.

Emotonal PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa during Senate probe (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO).

Emotonal PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa during Senate probe (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO).

“Sir, hindi kita iiwan sa laban na ito (I will never leave you in this fight). I will be with you, through thick and thin, no matter what. Lahat ng kaya ko gagawin ko (I will do everything I can),” he said.

Kerwin’s revelation on why Jaguar was killed now appeared to have strengthen the claim of lawyer Augusto Isidoro, the former assistant director of the National Bureau of Investigation in Central Visayas (NBI-7) handling the narcotics division, who believed that Jaguar was killed to silence him before he could divulge the identifies of his bosses and protectors.

Isidoro, who was assigned in Cebu from March 2015 to January 2016, claimed Diaz had several “protectors” including police officers, politicians and other “big” personalities in the different government offices.

“These people behind him feared so much that Jaguar might implicate them soon, so they summarily killed him,” Isidoro said. “Dead men tell no tales. Obviously the purpose of the killing is to silence him (Jaguar). Who can track Jaguar’s whereabouts? Precisely his protectors.”

Diaz was killed by operatives of the Regional Special Operations Group in Central Visayas then led by Supt. George Ylanan and former Regional Intelligence Division chief, Supt. Rex Derilo. Both Ylanan and Derilo were relieved from their posts and were transferred to Mindanao last July. Two months after, they were directed to report to the holding unit under the office of PNP Chief Rosa after they were named as protectors of another suspected Cebuano drug lord, Franz Sabalones.

In the case of Loot, Kerwin claimed he gave him the monthly payola of P100,00 “several times,” which only stopped when Loot was transferred to Camp Crame in Quezon City by the end of 2012.

Kerwin said he did not personally meet Loot, but he gave the money allegedly to Laraga, an allegation that the latter denied.

Loot was among the five top police officials identified as illegal drug “protectors” by President Rodrigo Duterte last July.

Aside from Loot, also named drug coddlers by the President were retired Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo Jr., Director Joel Pagdilao, and Chief Superintendents Bernardo Diaz and Edgardo Tinio.

LOOT

LOOT

In 2012, Kerwin said he was also introduced to Supt. Santi Noel Matira who allegedly initially received a P15,000 weekly payola from him until it was increased to P25,000 when his area of distribution in Leyte expanded. Matira is also part of the raiding team that killed his jailed father.

Kerwin also revealed giving a P15,000 weekly SOP to a certain Inspector Chua, and issued checks totaling P3 million to Chief Supt. Asher Dolina, former PRO-8 director, through his middleman Victor Espina, brother-in-law of former Philippine National Police (PNP) officer-in-charge, retired Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina, in 2015.

He also accused Supt. Marvin Marcos, former head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Eastern Visayas, of soliciting P3 million to fund the campaign of the colonel’s wife who ran for vice mayor of Pastrana town in Leyte. Marcos was the head of the police operation that led to the death of Kerwin’s father inside the Leyte sub-provincial jail in Baybay City, Leyte.

Kerwin named Lim, through Jaguar, a certain Lovely Adam Impal and Peter Co as his suppliers of illegal drugs.

Espinosa claimed that in 2005, as an underling of Jaguar, he was introduced by Jaguar to Impal when they met inside the Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center (BBRC) in Lahug, Cebu City.

“Supplier ko si Lovely Adam Impal at Jaguar kasi sila ang malalaking negosyante ng shabu sa panahon na ‘yon (Impal and Jaguar supplied me illegal drugs since they were the big players at that time),” he said.

Impal is a native of Cagayan De Oro but she owns properties in Iligan City, Bukidnon province, said Kerwin.

While inside the jail, Kerwin said he would ask his men, including a village councilor, to sell drugs supplied by Impal. The proceeds from Kerwin’s drug deals will then be delivered to Jaguar through his brother Ryan while Impal received her share in her bank account. The remaining collectibles went to Kerwin.

He said he started dealing drugs with P700 as capital, peddling drugs by sachets, until he eventually was able to produce up to P1.5 million in a single drug deal while being in detention.

When he was transferred to the New Bilibid Prison, Kerwin met there the now freed Vizconde massacre suspect Hubert Webb, Chinese drug lord Peter Co, slain inmate Tony Co, Eugene Chua and a certain Boss Hanz.

He said Webb and other inmates had asked him to join the “Sputnik” Gang, but he ended up working for Co, from whom he said he received four kilos of shabu (metamphetamine) until it grew to up to 10 kilos, to be sold in 40 days.

Kerwin’s and Co’s men outside the Bilibid were the ones negotiating for their bosses. He identified his henchmen as Nelson “Jun” Pepito, village councilor in Albuera, Leyte, and a Marcelo Adorco.

Now out of jail and operating in Leyte since 2011, Kerwin said his drug business grew from selling 300 grams of shabu a week to disposing 10 kilos in 40 days, earning for him P10 million. Half of the amount, he said, were given as payola to policemen and other government officials and salaries to his personnel. He said he also distributed money to his poor neighbors.

But after his father was killed, Kerwin said he realized that getting involved in the illegal drugs trade is wrong.

“I should be made answerable for my father’s death. He was innocent. He was dragged into the issue because of me. I should not have entered this kind of business,” he said.

Before the nine-hour proceedings at the Senate ended yesterday, Senator Panfilo Lacson, chair of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, appealed to the police to ensure Kerwin’s safety.

“Iingatan ninyo siya (Take good care of him). Let Kerwin live to tell his story,” he said.

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TAGS: Albuera Leyte, Bato Dela Rosa, Baybay City, Cebu, drug lord, drugs, Kerwin Espinosa, Leyte, PNP, President Rodrigo Duterte

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