MANILA, Philippines – “You better surrender or die.”
There is no warrant of arrest for Kerwin Espinosa, son of Albuera town mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr, but on Tuesday, August 2, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa warned the alleged drug lord to “surrender or die.”
On Tuesday, at around 4 am, the Albuera mayor “surrendered” to Dela Rosa, mere hours after President Rodrigo Duterte called on the father and son to give up amid allegations of links to the illegal drugs trade.
In a statement, Duterte said that should they fail to surrender within the 24-hour deadline, a “shoot on sight” order would be issued against the two if they resist arrest.
The older Espinosa waited from 7 am on Monday, August 1, until 4 am the next day at Camp Crame, in order to place himself under the custody of Dela Rosa. Although there are no arrest warrants for father or son, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a separate statement that the younger Espinosa is “still at large.”
“The shoot on sight is still active hangga’t hindi siya mag-surrender. Kaya kung nakikinig ngayon si Kerwin… your father has already surrendered so you should follow your father dahil pag hindi ka magsusurrender, mamamatay ka talaga,” Dela Rosa said in a press conference in Camp Crame.
(The shoot on sight order is still active until he surrenders. So if Kerwin is watching this now… your father has already surrendered so you should follow your father because if you don’t surrender, you will surely die.)
As the PNP chief issued this threat, the Albuera mayor stood behind him, looking tired and nervous as he answered some questions from the media.
Shortly after the press conference, Senator Leila de Lima delivered a privilege speech at the Senate to denounce the extrajudicial killings triggered by the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs. (WATCH: Senator De Lima’s speech vs summary executions)
De Lima, a former justice secretary and human rights commissioner, described the spate of killings as a “do-it-yourself justice system.” The Senate justice and human rights committee she chairs and the Senate public order and illegal drugs headed by Senator Panfilo Lacson are expected to open a joint Senate investigation on the issue. (READ: FULL TEXT: De Lima’s privilege speech on extrajudicial killings)
Mayor Espinosa, said Dela Rosa, is part of Duterte’s “list” of alleged drug protectors and drug lords. The younger Espinosa, according to the PNP chief, is among the top drug lords of Eastern Visayas.
His father is listed as his “protector,” although the mayor insists he has not seen his son in months and does not know where his son is.
Dela Rosa said Espinosa had already “admitted” that his son Kerwin was in fact involved in the illegal drugs trade. The younger Espinosa allegedly sources his drugs from Peter Co, a detainee in the New Bilibid Prison and another drug lord detained in a local jail.
Espinosa will be investigated by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Camp Crame but once that’s over, Dela Rosa said the mayor can go “scot free.” The PNP chief said that if Espinosa feels he is safe enough, he can freely go back to Albuera to spearhead efforts to rid the town of illegal drugs.
Dela Rosa also revealed on Tuesday that during the August 1 Cabinet meeting in the Palace, President Duterte unveiled yet again a long list of local government officials – from mayors, vice mayors, to governors – with links to illegal drugs.
Since Duterte assumed office, more than 400 drug suspects have been killed in police operations around the country. A campaign against crime, illegal drugs, and corruption was among Duterte’s key promises in the 2016 elections.
Police and other law enforcement agencies have up to 6 months to stop – or at least suppress – crime and illegal drugs, if Duterte’s timeline is to be followed. – Rappler.com