MANILA, Philippines – Alleged Eastern Visayas drug lord Kerwin Espinosa was moved to the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) late in the evening of Wednesday, December 14, according to spokesman Ferdinand Lavin.
Espinosa was moved to the NBI after weeks of being detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) headquarters in Camp Crame. Espinosa had been staying in Crame since arriving in the Philippines from Abu Dhabi, where he had originally been arrested.
The alleged drug lord’s request to be transferred to the NBI was granted by Leyte Regional Trial Court Branch 14 Judge Carlos Arguelles in a December 6 decision.
Espinosa faces charges for supposedly violating the country’s illegal drugs and firearms laws. He is among the first big-time drug personalities to have been named publicly in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
No less than Duterte himself urged Espinosa and his father, the late Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr, to surrender to police after an anti-drug operation uncovered shabu in a tennis court near their home.
Despite the absence of a warrant, Duterte said that police had a “shoot on sight” order against the two should they resist arrest.
The older Espinosa was gunned down in early November while police were trying to serve a search warrant against him inside his jail cell in Baybay City, Leyte. The operation, which was led by Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Region 8 personnel, has been labeled a rubout by the NBI.
The younger Espinosa is under the provisional coverage of the Department of Justice’s Witness Protection Program (WPP).
Despite already executing an affidavit before the AIDG, Espinosa will have to execute another one that will be used to evaluate his admission to the WPP, according to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.
Persons under the WPP are given privileges including the use of a safe house, financial assistance, assistance in obtaining means of livelihood, payment equivalent of salary as compensation for absences in work, travel expenses, and medical expenses.
They are also given death benefits, including free college education for their children. Espinosa has two young children with his common-law wife. – Rappler.com