Bato: Shoot on sight order vs mayor’s son remains

Jaime Laude - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa yesterday warned suspected drug trafficker Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr. to surrender or face the consequences.

Dela Rosa stressed the “shoot on sight” order of President Duterte is still in effect.

“Start praying for your dear life if you do not surrender,” Dela Rosa remarked in exasperation while waiting for Kerwin to surface.

Dela Rosa on Thursday said Kerwin had sent surrender feelers.

Asked if he is giving any deadline for Kerwin to give up, Dela Rosa said he is not into giving any deadline for lawmen to hunt him down and kill him on sight if he resists arrest.

On Monday, Duterte gave Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. and his son 24 hours to surrender after two of the mayor’s bodyguards and three other employees were arrested in a police anti-drug operation.

Duterte gave an order of “shoot on sight” if the Espinosas resist arrest.

The elder Espinosa surrendered to police on Tuesday, saying he feared for his safety after the President threatened reprisals for allegedly coddling his drug-dealing son.

A day after his surrender, six of his alleged bodyguards were killed in a shootout with lawmen in their hometown of Albuera.

Police said the Espinosas are known to maintain drug trafficking as a “family business.”

Espinosa was under the custody of the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and denied allegations he was into drug trafficking.

He also denied the six gunmen killed by the police were his goons.

But he admitted Kerwin is into the illegal drug business and appealed for his son to surrender.

Dela Rosa said Espinosa had told him yesterday that Kerwin has yet to call him.

And if Kerwin reneged on his promise to give up, Dela Rosa said the long arm of the law would eventually catch up with him as the PNP will be coordinating with their Malaysian counterparts for his arrest.

Reports said Kerwin left for Malaysia on July 21 amid Duterte’s massive crackdown on illegal drugs.

Espinosa, on the other hand, was taken into custody by the CIDG and since there were no charges filed against him, he was accommodated in the “White House,” the official residence of the PNP chief.

Espinosa was allowed to stay at the White House to ensure his safety and that of his family.

Bad habits

Dela Rosa, however, has ordered Espinosa and his family out of the White House.

“With or without Kerwin, I am giving him only until tomorrow (today) for them to vacate the White House. It’s up to them. They are on their own,” Dela Rosa said.

“He is there (White House) hoping that he will be around when his son Kerwin shows up to surrender but I am sending him home. I don’t want him to stay any longer there,” he added.

Dela Rosa said he could no longer endure the smoking habits of his “guests” whom he allowed to occupy the room of his son, who is coming over from Davao.

Dela Rosa said he is giving Kerwin until last night to show up but even if he surrenders, his parents will have to leave the PNP chief’s official residence.

Espinosa will be forced to return home, possibly facing criminal charges stemming from last Wednesday’s gun battle with the police.

Regional police director Chief Supt. Elmer Cruz Beltejar said they would file criminal charges against Espinosa.

Beltejar said the slain gunmen in Albuera were part of the private army maintained by the Espinosas.

Beltejar said several witnesses have identified the slain as among the alleged hit men the Espinosas used to protect their drug trafficking activities as well as to kill political enemies.

Dela Rosa said Espinosa had been listed as a “drug protector” whose son controlled the regional narcotics trade from their hometown.

Duterte had said he has a list of local officials involved in the drug trade and would reveal it soon.

In the list

Following Espinosa, more local officials tagged in the supposed “narco-politicians” list presented themselves to the police yesterday.

Maguing, Lanao del Sur Mayor Mamaulan Abinal Mulok and former Marantao, Lanao del Sur mayor Muhammad Ali Abu Abinal were presented to the media by Dela Rosa.

“They voluntarily surrendered to me personally because they heard or they received information that they are in the drug watch-list of the President. They are included in the 23 mayors who are being linked to the drug trade,” Dela Rosa said.

Mulok and Abinal admitted peddling drugs in the past and vowed to change.

They said they were behind the distribution of illegal drugs in Quiapo, Manila, Caloocan and Cavite areas in 2000 and 2002.

The two mayors stressed they are not selling and distributing illegal drugs in their respective towns but only outside.

The two admitted being “downline” distributors of former Maguing town mayor Johaira Abinal, alias “Mayora Marimar.”

Abinal, along with her husband who is an Army major, was arrested in a drug sting by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Cagayan de Oro City last July.

“They told me they’re the downline. Above them is former mayor Marimar,” Dela Rosa said. – With John Unson

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