Cheers greet exoneration of Leyte officials

By: Joey Gabieta November 24,2016 - 10:47 PM



TACLOBAN CITY — While Leyte officials applauded Kerwin Espinosa for clearing their names of any involvement in his drug trade, a police general was left shocked that the drug lord would accuse him of receiving payola.

Chief Supt. Asher Dolina, who was police director for Eastern Visayas in 2015, maintained that he had not met Espinosa.

He pointed out that he was police director for Eastern Visayas in 2015 when Espinosa was arrested for illegal possession of firearms.

The case, however, was dismissed due to a technicality.

“I have never met him. That was why I was surprised that my name was tagged as his alleged protector,” said Dolina.

Dolina also denied receiving money from Kerwin, either in cash or checks, to purchase a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV).

“Why would I ask for an SUV when I had service vehicle of my own as the regional director,” he said.

He said he was glad that Espinosa claimed that he had given him checks because these could be traced through bank records.

“I am thankful that he mentioned that he issued a check in my name. There is a paper trail here if indeed I received money from him,” Dolina said.

He, however, admitted that he knew Victor Espina because the latter is the brother of former Philippine National Police (PNP) Deputy Director Leonardo Espina and was based in Ormoc City, Leyte.

Espinosa earlier claimed that he knew Dolina through Victor Espina.

Another proof that Espinosa was lying, said Dolina, was that the drug lord didn’t know his first name.

“He just referred to me as Dolina,” he said.

As Dolina struggled to clear his name, Leyte officials who were earlier linked to the Espinosa Drug Group expressed relief that their names were cleared by Espinosa during the Senate inquiry on Wednesday.

Leyte Gov. Leopoldo Dominico Petilla, his cousins Vice Gov. Carlo Loreto and Baybay City Mayor Michael Cari, Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez, and Rep. Vicente Veloso of Leyte’s 3rd district said they felt vindicated.

“I knew that the truth will come out and right from the start, the affidavit naming me as among their drug protector was defective and not true,” said Gov. Petilla.

Loreto, for his part, said it was just a “matter of time for the truth to come out.”

“I am happy that I have been finally cleared from the issue. This has been a vindication of my name and we are glad that the truth has come out,” said Loreto in a text message.

Vice Mayor Cari also said Espinosa’s statement only validated his earlier denial that he was never involved in the illegal drugs trade.

“This vindication brings relief for me and my family and more than ever, validates my earlier statements that I have never been involved in any drug activity,” he said in a statement posted on Facebook.

Gomez, meanwhile, blamed politics for dragging his name in the illegal drugs trade.

“We will never be involved in drug trade. And what happened in the past months are political handiworks by Albuera police chief Jovie Espenido and the Codillas,” Gomez said.

Gomez claimed that Espenido was a close friend of the Codillas, a political family in Ormoc who had ruled the city for decades.
Veloso also felt vindicated now that Espinosa had cleared his name.

“I am very, very innocent on this issue. I knew all along that the affidavit was defective. I am thankful that I was vindicated and cleared,” Veloso said.

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TAGS: drugs, Eastern Visayas, Espinosa, Kerwin Espinosa, Leyte, Ormoc, Ormoc City, Philippine National Police, PNP, politics, SUV, Tacloban City

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