Lacson: 'Kerwin Espinosa must live to tell his story'
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday, November 10, urged the Duterte administration to ensure the safety of alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa once he is deported to the Philippines from the United Arab Emirates.
Lacson made the call in his opening remarks at the Senate inquiry into the death of Kerwin's father, Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr, and another inmate during a police operation a Baybay City jail on November 5.
"The imminent deportation of Kerwin Espinosa must be given utmost attention and security concern by this government if it is really sincere and serious in [seeking] to identify those in government who benefitted from his drug-dealing activities," said the senator, chair of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs.
He revealed that some people have been in touch with Kerwin as he awaited deportation to the Philippines. Kerwin was arrested in Abu Dhabi on October 17.
"These are individuals to whom he has already revealed several names in his blue book, and the list includes recipients of campaign contributions in the recent 2016 national and local elections. Therefore, unlike his late father…he must live to tell his story," Lacson said.
The Albuera mayor's death, he said, had affected the probative value of the affidavit Espinosa had executed on October 5, which lists the alleged protectors of Kerwin in government. (READ: Politicians, police, media: Who were named in Espinosa's affidavit?)
"The death of Mayor Espinosa obviously affects the probative value of his sworn statement revealing the names of the ones on top of the country's drug trade, particularly their protectors," Lacson said.
He said "our people and probably most of the members of our committee present here today find it difficult to accept or even grasp" the version of the police team that conducted the operation in the Baybay City jail where Espinosa and another inmate was killed.
"Foremost on our minds is why would Espinosa even attempt to put up a fight when he is trapped in a prison cell with nowhere to go? Not to mention that he surrendered and was fully cooperating hoping to become a state witness. Nothing makes sense," Lacson said.
Among the questions that need to be answered by authorities, he said, are the following:
- What necessitated the the application of a search warrant when Espinosa was already in jail and under government custody? What are the contents of the search warrant?
- Why was it necessary to serve a search warrant against a detained person past 3 am?
- Was there sufficient prior coordination with the jail warden before the warrant was served?
- Is there truth to reports that the raiding team disarmed the 4 provincial policemen and asked them to kneel and face the wall?
- Why is the hard drive with the CCTV footage of the incident missing?
- Is it true that a member of the raiding team is in the Espinosas' blue book or allegedly received payola from them?
- Why would the raiding party read or serve the search warrant to two dead persons but earlier ignored the plea of the jail warden to be shown the same?
Lacson also enumerated the people allegedly linked to Kerwin who had been killed either in police operations – including two while in jail – or by unidentified suspects since August. He asked the Philippine National Police to provide a status report on these cases.
The hearing is conducted jointly with the Senate committee on justice and human rights. – Rappler.com