Cebu News

Surrender feelers sent to cops: Kerwin to give up

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Suspected drug lord Kerwin Espinosa has sent surrender feelers to the police through his father, Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa, following a bloody raid on their compound Wednesday morning that killed six of their henchmen.

The surrender feelers came as Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña challenged the city police to arrest Kerwin, who hails from Barangay Hipodromo, so he would restore the city's financial and logistical support to them. 

Philippine National Police chief Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa announced yesterday that Kerwin is already planning to surrender. He promised to personally escort the alleged drug lord from the airport to Camp Crame.

The Bureau of Immigration has confirmed that Kerwin has already left the country even before President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office on June 30.

Aside from the police, Kerwin also reportedly sent surrender feelers to the National Bureau of Investigation, where suspected drug lord Alvaro Alvaro alias Barok surrendered earlier.

The president issued on Monday a "shoot on sight" order against Kerwin and his father if they resist arrest and will not surrender within 24 hours. His father surrendered to Dela Rosa in Camp Crame last Tuesday but Kerwin did not show up.

Osmeña believes that Kerwin could be hiding in Cebu City, prompting him to ask the police to find and arrest the suspect.

"Now, I challenge the PNP to find Kerwin who is known to be somewhere here in Cebu.

And to find their protectors in the police department because one of his alleged protectors in the PNP is going to be brought back in Cebu City," Osmeña said.

Osmeña, however, refused to give the name of Kerwin's alleged protectors.

The mayor said he might consider giving back his support to the police if they can arrest Kerwin and his protectors. He said the police force that he has supported before was working to capture another drug suspect but was interrupted during the change of commands.

"We were very close in getting him (drug personality). That's why I felt that the actions of the PNP really actually put our momentum on hold," he said.

"If they can find their protectors including the politicians who have been protecting Kerwin, I'll reconsider my position in giving them support. But in the meantime I just don't have any confidence in them especially General Bato," he added.

Senior Superintendent Rey Lyndon Lawas, deputy regional director for operations of Police Regional Office-7, said they would be happy if the mayor reconsiders his earlier decision.  Lawas assured Osmeña that the police are doing their best to find and arrest Kerwin, who has pending warrant of arrest for drugs.

"Gitahasan nasad nato ang Cebu City Police Office to look into sa possible area nga nagtago si Kerwin," Lawas said.

Murder, drug charges

Multiple murder and illegal drug charges will be filed against Kerwin and his father in relation to the summary killings in their town in Albuera, Leyte and their alleged illegal drug activities in Eastern Visayas.

Chief Superintendent Elmer Beltejar, acting regional director of the Police Regional Office-8, announced the filing of the charges during a press briefing yesterday after the shootout that killed six of Espinosas henchmen in Sitio Tinago, Barangay Binolho last Wednesday.

"We have strong evidences and witnesses that will directly link Mayor Espinosa in the killing incidents in Albuera, either due to illegal drug activities and politics. With this development, I am sending a strong message to everyone and my colleagues in the government service to stop dealing into drugs," Beltejar said.

Two workers of the Espinosa family are now in custody of the PRO-8. They were presented to reporters during a press conference at the headquarters yesterday morning.

 Jose Antipuesto, who introduced himself as the personal driver and childhood friend of Kerwin, said that he knew about the illegal drug operations of the Espinosas.

He added that three of the six armed men killed in the shootout were hired guns from Mindanao.

"Hindi namin sila kilala personally, ang tatlo sa kanila, dahil guns for hire sila, napunta nang Albuera at sila ang inuutusan kapag may ipapatumba na tao," Antipuesto said.

 Senior Superintendent Franco Simborio, director of the Leyte Police Provincial Office, identified three of the six persons killed in the shootout as Ricky Gravillo, of Barangay Binolho in Albuera; Teresito Larao Paderangga, of Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur; and Richard Mato, of Pagadian City.   The others were only known as alias "Tatay," alias "Arman," both from Mindanao, and a third one remains unidentified.

"Suspects were all identified as members of the Espinosa drug group, allegedly headed by Mayor Espinosa and son Kerwin, with operations in Eastern Visayas," Simborio said.  (FREEMAN)

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