6 Espinosa men killed in shootout with cops

(The Freeman) - August 4, 2016 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - A day after Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. surrendered following allegations he is a drug protector, at least six armed men were killed in an alleged shootout with police during simultaneous raids on Espinosa's house and that of his son, Rolan "Kerwin," in Albuera town early morning yesterday.

The combined forces of the Leyte Provincial Police Office led by Senior Supt. Franco Simborio and the Regional Public Safety Battalion were on the hunt for Kerwin who was identified as a drug lord.

The operation, however, was unsuccessful.

 Chief Supt. Elmer Beltejar, acting director of the Police Regional Office - 8 who was at the scene, said it was the armed men at the mayor's house who fired the first shots at the authorities.

The policemen returned fire and six men at Espinosa's house went down.

"The men from the Espinosa group were at one of the mayor's houses, specifically where "manokan" is located. They fired shots at our policemen who, in turn, had to fight back to defend their lives too," Beltejar told The Freeman in a phone interview.

 Two of the six were found near the foyer at the mayor's house, two were found about 200 meters away where Espinosa breeds fighting cocks, while another were found at the gate of Kerwin's compound.

Only two were identified properly as of yesterday - Ricky Gravello of Barangay Can-untog in Ormoc City and Terisito Paderangga of Leyson Valley in Zamboanga, based on an ID retrieved from his body.

 The others were referred to only as alias "Tatay," alias "Edgar," and alias "Intsik" while one other was unidentified.

Beltejar said they have information that two of the six were from Cebu, another from Samar, and one from Mindanao.   He said they are pursuing reports there are more armed men at that time, only that the others managed to escape.

Residents of the area claim not knowing the fatalities.

The Albuera police recovered 13 assorted long firearms, four .45-caliber pistols, and rifle grenades from the compounds.

Beltejar refused to say whether charges will be filed against the mayor for "coddling" heavily armed men at his property.

 Following his surrender Tuesday, the mayor admitted his son had been a "drug lord" operating not only in Eastern Visayas but also in other places in the region. He went on to disclose that Kerwin had even undergone facial surgery.

In a report by GMA News, its source from the Bureau of Immigration reportedly confirmed Kerwin has left the Philippines even before President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office last June 30.

He reportedly flew to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on June 21, nine days before Duterte's inauguration.

The same GMA story quoted Cecil Villarosa of dzBB who reported that based on Immigration records, Espinosa has no return flight record yet.


In Cebu, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-7 said it will help the special task group in Leyte look for Kerwin.

 PDEA-7 Director Yogi Filemon Ruiz said Kerwin is a high value target.

 "He is included in our monitoring. He is part of the Top 10 priority target list…not just PDEA-7 but also PDEA-8," he said, adding PDEA-7 has an efforts but cannot disclose it yet.

Ruiz is optimistic they can still identify Kerwin.

He said Rolan will put up a fight because of his earlier pronouncement that he will not let the police arrest him, but warned, "ayaw lang pakita nako kay unhanay lang mi."

"Ako silang tagaan og chance pero kahibaw ko nga musukol sila. Di ko muingon nga patyon sila…ilaha man nang decision," he said.

 Kerwin used to live in Hipodromo, Cebu City with his family before transferring to Leyte.

The mayor's sister-in-law who still lives in Cebu said they fear for their safety now. 

 "Dugay na kaayo wa mi kakita niya diri asta sila (referring to her family) wala na kakita. Kami karon, bended knees mi asa na siya (Kerwin)," she said.

 She said the last time she saw the mayor was during the elections because they supported his candidacy.

  "Panawagan nako kong kinsa tong concerned, ang concerned lang. Di lang kay murag extension naman gud mi, ana ba… so dili makuan nato nga unsay nahimo ni Juan, bayran ni Pedro… total, ni-surrender naman ang amahan, di unta muabot sa point nga asta tong relatives," she said. (FREEMAN)

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