MANILA, Philippines – Albuera town mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr on Wednesday, August 3, denied having anything to do with the illegal drug trade amid allegations from no less than President Rodrigo Duterte that the mayor has been protecting his son, an alleged drug lord.
In fact, the mayor said, he led an anti-dangerous drugs campaign that resulted in the surrender of over 300 drug personalities in his city. The problem was the town police chief started threatening him, Espinosa said in his affidavit.
Espinosa on Wednesday went to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to execute an affidavit after he surrendered to PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa.
Duterte had earlier called him and his son to surrender.
Late July, a police buy bust operation seized millions in illegal drugs from a court near the Espinosa home. While there is no case or arrest warrant pending against the father and son, Kerwin is considered “at-large.”
Politics behind it?
Thus far, Espinosa is the only elected government official to surrender amid the new administration’s campaign against crime, illegal drugs, and corruption. But because there is no case against him, Espinosa is free to leave Manila and return to Albuera, Leyte any time he wants.
His lawyer, however, says that’s not likely to happen, given the threats to his life.
“Natigil ako dahil nagka death threat ako duon sa hepe ng pulis nitong July 22, 2016. Umalis ako duon at nakaupo ngayon yung first councilor ko na si Sixto dela Victoria (I stopped my campaign against illegal drugs because the chief of police issued a death threat against me on July 22. I left and now the first councilor Sixto dela Rosa has taken over my duties),” reads part of Espinosa’s affidavit.
When pressed if he was sure that the death threats came from the Albuera police chief, Chief Inspector Juvy Espinido, Espinosa said: “Maaring sa pulitika po. ‘Pag nakikita siya ng tao doon sa Albuera, ang sinasabi niya ‘Asan ang mayor niyo? Sabihin niyo ha! Itutumba ko siya.’ Kaya sa takot ko, lumuwas na ako ng Maynila dala ang aking mga mahal sa buhay.”
(It might be because of politics. Whenever the city police chief would see people, he’d say: Where’s your mayor? Tell him, I’ll finish him. So in my fear, I left for Manila with my loved ones.)
Espinosa also hinted at Espinido’s affiliation with his vice mayor, Rosa Meneses. “Hindi nga po siya nag-courtesy call sa akin. Pero nag courtesy call siya kay vice mayor (He didn’t pay me a courtesy call but he paid a courtesy call on the vice mayor),” said Espinosa.
Espinosa, joined by his lawyer, live-in partner and daughter, waited from 7 am of August 1 until 4 am of August 2 just to meet Dela Rosa. In a press conference on Tuesday, Dela Rosa said that Espinosa had vowed to cooperate in the Duterte government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
If he didn’t, Espinosa himself said Dela Rosa could kill him. – Rappler.com