Lacson: Cops in Espinosa killing were Kerwin's 'protectors'
MANILA, Philippines – The draft affidavit of alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa identifies as his protectors the same Eastern Visayas police officers who killed his father, Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr of Albuera, Leyte.
This was revealed by Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday, November 22, ahead of the scheduled Senate hearing on Wednesday, where the younger Espinosa is set to testify.
Espinosa, among the first high-profile personalities named in Preside Rodrigo Duterte's campaign against the illegal drug trade, was arrested by Abu Dhabi police in mid-October.
He arrived in the Philippines almost two weeks after his father was killed in a police operation inside a Leyte sub-provincial jail in Baybay City on November 5.
On Tuesday, Lacson said he had read Espinosa's draft affidavit stating that his operation is "mostly regional," that is, in Eastern Visayas.
"Mostly mga police officials [ang binanggit sa affidavit]. Offhand, ang nakita ko sa affidavit kaya sinabi ko medyo lumiliwanag ang motibo, nakita ko na nasa payola niya mga opisyal na nasangkot sa pagkamatay ng ama niya," he explained.
(Mostly police officers were mentioned in the affidavit. Offhand, this is why I say the motive is becoming clearer. What I saw in the affidavit is that the officials involved in the death of his father are in his pay-offs.)
Asked if he has confirmed anything from the affidavit, Lacson said everything is "speculative" at this point, but also, "circumstantial." For one, he said it's possible to conclude the motive in killing Mayor Espinosa.
"Kung nasa payola nila ang mga na-involve sa pagkamatay ng tatay niya, posibleng may pinagtatakpan. Tutal, identified naman sino talaga pumatay sa tatay niya pero he mentioned Marcos, Laraga, Matira in his affidavit na siyang kumukuha ng regular na payola from him."
(If those involved in the death of his father are in his pay-offs, it is possible they are trying to cover something. After all, those who killed his father has already beeen identified, but he mentioned in his affidavit that Marcos, Laraga, Matira get regular pay-offs from him.)
He was referring to Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Region 8 personnel Marvin Marcos, Leo Lagara, and Noel Matira. (READ: Espinosa death: 3 issues police need to answer)
Lacson said it will be up to Espinosa to explain these things in detail during Wednesday's hearing. The senator also expects Espinosa to mention his "connections and protectors" during the Senate inquiry.
He lamented how police officials have come to treat drug lords as jueteng lords now that they themselves look for a connection to get a regular pay-off from a drug lord.
"'Yan ang maliwanag sa affidavit na nakita ko. Hindi si Kerwin nag-initiate ng move para magkaroon ng connection sa police officials assigned in Region 8. Yung pulis officials ang humahanap ng conduit para makarating at makahingi ng regular weekly or monthly payola," he explained.
(That is clear in the affidavit I've seen. Kerwin did not initiate the move to have connections with police officials assigned in Region 8; it was the police officials who look for a conduit so that they can get a regular weekly or monthly pay-off.)
This is why Lacson said there is more reason now to protect Espinosa, that is, "to really find out gaano kalawak ang influence (how wide the influence is)."
The senator said Espinosa denied the authenticity of his father's affidavit, including the signature on it. The slain mayor in his affidavit said his son was a "big time drug lord" operating in the region.
De Lima in Senate hearing
According to Lacson, Espinosa mentioned in his affidavit one senator who received in tranches a pay-off amounting to a total of P8 million: Senator Leila de Lima.
"Siya ang binanggit niya [Espinosa]. Bukas, malaman natin. Mabuti rin matanong natin si Senator De Lima para matanong din niya diretso." (She was mentioned by him [Espinosa]. Tomorrow, we will know. It's better that way, we can ask Senator de Lima directly.)
Lacson said De Lima is welcome to attend Wednesday's hearing. But De Lima, he said, asked for an assurance that her fellow senators will not embarrass her.
"I don't think fellow senators gagawa ng sadyang pamamaraan para ipahiya siya. But she should also be prepared na sagutin kung i-confront siya directly ni Kerwin Espinosa kung ano ang ugnayan nilang dalawa," he added.
(I don't think fellow senators will intentionally find a way to embarass her. But she should also be prepared to answer if Kerwin Espinosa directly confronts her about their connection.)
De Lima had said she will not be surprised if Espinosa would link her to the illegal drug trade. Still, on Tuesday, she urged government authorities to provide Espinosa the "right treatment."
She asked the same for her former security aide and boyfriend Ronnie Dayan, who was arrested on Tuesday.
In a press conference at the House of Representatives, Dayan admitted that he received money from Espinosa on behalf of De Lima. – Jee Geronimo/Rappler.com
We keep you informed because you matter
We tell you the stories that matter. We ask, we probe, we explain.
But as we strive to do all this and speak truth to power, we face constant threats to our independence.
Help us make a difference through free and fearless journalism. With your help, you enable us to keep providing you with our brand of compelling and investigative work.
Joining Rappler PLUS allows us to build communities of action with you. PLUS members will receive our editorial newsletters and industry reports, get to join exclusive online conversations with our award-winning journalists, and be part of our monthly events.
Make your move now. Join Rappler PLUS.