Provincial police deployed to Albuera amid threat of attacks

LEYTE, Philippines – Provincial police have been deployed to Albuera town in this province to ward off any possible attacks of protectors of alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.

Reinforcement from the Regional Public Safety Battalion and Leyte Provincial Public Safety Company are now deployed to Albuera, the town police chief, Police Chief Inspector Juvi Espinido, said on Friday, September 2.

There have been concerns about a possible attack on the Albuera police station where Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr has been living and holding office after he was placed under the protective custody of the police.

Espinosa earlier executed an affidavit revealing the alleged protectors of his son, who has yet to surrender to authorities, as well as Kerwin's drug network. These protectors allegedly include police generals and local government officials.

Espinido said while the police has not received any intelligence report of a potential attack, it is best "not to discount any possibilities" and to be prepared.

"We will strengthen our actions in Albuera.  What we’ve got to make sure is that we have the resources in the right place at the right time. An attack on the Mayor could happen anytime," Espinido said.

"It’s really important that people here are reassured that all of us are doing our bit to keep this town safe," he added.

More patrols, checkpoints

Police Inspector Salvador Apacible, who leads the augmentation police force, explained that presence of additional police in Albuera. "The more police we have, the less crime there will be," he said.

Police have been closely guarding the town since Espinosa voluntarily surrendered to Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa. This came after President Rodrigo Duterte named him and his son as among those allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade.

Espinosa and members of his family even stayed for a few days at the PNP chief's official residence in Camp Crame following his surrender, as he feared for his life. The Espinosas were "evicted" after Kerwin failed to meet the PNP's surrender deadline.

There have been more police patrols seen in the town, as well as random checkpoints. Authorities are pursuing the private armed groups of the Espinosa groups. Six of the mayor's men were killed in a shootout with police in early August.

Mixed feelings

Albuera residents have mixed feelings about the presence of more police in their streets.

Barangay Mahayag chief  Rene Gilbert Estacio said the presence of more authorities is "reassuring."

"It's a good thing.  It makes us feel more secure especially in the evening. We shouldn’t be complacent. I think it needs to happen now, whether we like or not," Estacio said.

A teacher who asked not to be named said, however, that the presence of more police forces in the town has added to the anxiety.

"It makes me feel more nervous than secure to be honest," the teacher said.

"I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I feel safer knowing that there is that something to mitigate the risk.  [On the other hand], we had some previous bad experiences with police brutality.  It’s important that the police we do have now are the right police officers who are going to protect us," the teacher added. –