MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa on Thursday, November 10, ordered the relief of 24 policemen over an operation that resulted in the death of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.
“After being appraised of the initial results of the investigation… I have directed Police Director Fernando Mendez Jr. of the Directorate for Personnel and Records Management to immediately issue the order for the relief of 18 other Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit 8 (CIDU 8) and six Regional Maritime Unit 8 (RMU 8) personnel involved in operation effective immediately,” Dela Rosa, who is in Malaysia with President Rodrigo Duterte, said in a statement released to media.
At dawn of Saturday, November 5, personnel from the CIDG and Maritime units from Eastern Visayas implemented a search warrant against Espinosa and another inmate, Raul Yap, who were both detained inside the Leyte sub-provincial jail in Baybay City, Leyte. The warrant was for the reported presence of guns and illegal drugs inside the cells of the two. (READ: Espinosa death: 3 issues police need to answer)
CIDG personnel claimed Espinosa and Yap fired shots when they implemented the warrant, prompting the cops to fire back. But this claim has been rejected by witnesses, as well as former PNP chief Senator Panfilo Lacson, who now leads a Senate probe into the incident.
The following personnel have been ordered relieved and reassigned to the Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit in Camp Crame:
Espinosa was among the first local chief executives to “surrender” to police in August over supposed links to illegal drugs. No less than Duterte issued a warning to Espinosa and his son, alleged Eastern Visayas drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.
Before he was killed inside the jail, Espinosa executed two affidavits that pinned down people – including sitting legislators, police, and Leyte politicians – who supposedly received “protection money” from the younger Espinosa. Several of those named have denied the allegations. – Rappler.com