Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. of Albuera, Leyte is once again holding office at his locale's municipal hall. The mayor, as indicated in an InterAksyon.com report, was identified as one of the personalities allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade in a list read out by President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this month.
Sins of the son
Espinosa—as well as several other politicians, judges, and police officers—was tagged as a "protector" of a drug lord. In this case, it's actually Espinosa's son, Kerwin, who has been identified as an alleged drug lord operating in the Visayas region.
It may be recalled that last August 2, he surrendered to Philippine National Police chief Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa in a bid to dismiss allegations that he was involved in the illegal drug trade.
CNN Philippines quoted Espinosa as saying, "Patayin ako ni General Dela Rosa pag ‘di ako nag surrender." Espinosa was presented to the media in a press conference.
The report had noted, though: "Dela Rosa said that Espinosa had no standing warrant of arrest, so he might be allowed to return to his hometown in Leyte—but with close monitoring of the police."
Interestingly enough, after Espinosa's surrender, he— along with his wife and daughter— then stayed at the White House, which is the PNP chief’s residence in Camp Crame, Quezon City. Dela Rosa had reportedly taken pity on them because they had "nowhere to go."
Later, though, the Espinosas wore out their welcome at the White House, as Kerwin didn't turn up to surrender.
Moreover, a Philippine Daily Inquirer report revealed, "Dela Rosa, however, admitted that more than just Kerwin’s lack of cooperation, it was the Espinosa family’s smoking habit that had exhausted his hospitality."
Dela Rosa had stated, "Grabe manigarilyo sila, the entire family. Eh ang baho na. The room smells terrible. I can’t take it anymore."
On August 3—while the Espinosas were at the White House in Quezon City—two police teams went to the Espinosa compound in Albuera, Leyte following a tip that there seemed to be people inside Kerwin's house. A shootout ensued when one of the armed men allegedly opened fire at the policemen. Six of the men who had been inside the Espinosa compound were killed in the encounter.
Then, on August 10, GMA News Online reported that "police seized at least 11 kilograms of shabu and ingredients for bomb-making in a raid at the Espinosas' ancestral home in Sitio Tinago Dos, Barangay Benolho in Albuera, Leyte. The seized shabu had a street value of P88 million.
The National Police Commission withdrew Espinosa's authority over the local police in an en banc resolution dated August 11. Sometime after this, the Espinosas left the White House.
On Tuesday, August 16, Espinosa was met by his supporters upon his arrival at the municipal hall. GMA News Online reported that Espinosa "went straight to the conference room without providing any statement."
Later, a Philippine Daily Inquirer report quoted Mayor Espinosa as saying, "Because of the danger to my life, I have decided to stay in the municipal hall for my safety. It doesn’t help also that I no longer have police escorts."
While the Albuera police have already filed a complaint against Espinosa at the provincial prosecutor’s office in Tacloban City for violating Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, the mayor has not yet received the summons to answer the said complaint.
Kerwin is still at large, although an ABS-CBN News report said he had sent "surrender feelers" to the PNP chief.
Espinosa is now singing a slightly different tune. He has accused the police of planting the evidence in the August 10 raid.
In a statement, he said, "I am appealing to the President and to the Philippine National Police chief to order his men to stop these threats and harassment to my person and to members of my family."
Espinosa added, "It seems that the authorities are using me to pressure my son, Kerwin, to surrender."