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PNP chief Bato to set free ‘narco mayor’ if proven not guilty

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa on Wednesday said he is willing to set free Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., tagged as drug protector and drug trafficker by President Rodrigo Duterte, if proven not guilty.

“Just in case hindi siya (Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.) file-an ng kaso, pauuwiin ko na siya,” Dela Rosa said over a radio interview with dzBB.

Espinosa Sr. voluntarily surrendered to Dela Rosa on Tuesday morning after the “shoot on sight order” of Duterte. He and his son Roland “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr. were asked to surrender on the grounds of drug trafficking and coddling drug lords within 24 hours. However, Kerwin failed to show up past deadline.

Dela Rosa said there are no standing warrants of arrest against the Espinosas and so he could be set free and continue serving as town mayor if he would be able to disprove his alleged drug ties. Espinosa Sr. said he surrendered for his safety, confessing that he got scared of Duterte’s shoot on sight order.

The PNP chief also turned over Espinosa Sr. to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group for investigation. Dela Rosa said there is a probability that the father and son might tag each other as involved in drugs.

Espinosa Sr. on Tuesday cleared his name and admitted to his son’s involvement in drugs. He even tagged Peter Co as his son's supplier. But other sources of Dela Rosa said Espinosa Sr. is also involved in drug dealing.

“Ang claim niya, 'yung anak niya ang drug lord. Ang claim naman ng mga ibang nagbibigay ng impormasyon sa atin, siya ang drug [lord at] courier lang ang anak niya. Puwedeng magtuturuan 'yan (Albuera and Kerwin),” the PNP chief said.

If given a chance to go back and serve his mayoral duties, Espinosa Sr. vowed to have zero tolerance against citizens involved in illegal drugs. He said he is willing to support the Duterte administration’s anti-drug campaign “100 percent.”

Kerwin still at large

While his father surrendered, Kerwin is still being hunted by the police. Sources claimed that Kerwin left for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last June 21,  a report from The STAR said. Meanwhile, radio reports said Kerwin underwent plastic surgery before he fled the country.

RELATED: Palace: Leyte town mayor accused of drug links has surrenderedPNP chief: 'Narco mayor' tags Peter Co as son's drug supplier

— with a report from Evelyn Macairan

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