Cebu News

Inside a Lorega Inn: Policemen nab Kerwin ‘cohort’

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Regional Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Group (RAIDSOTG-7) and Special Operations Task Group (RSOG-7) operatives arrested yesterday morning an alleged cohort of suspected Eastern Visayas drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, son of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., inside an inn in Barangay Lorega San Miguel, Cebu City.

Chief Superintendent Noli Taliño, Police Regional Office (PRO)-7 director, identified the suspect as Roderick James Espina, 54, of Maasin City, Southern Leyte. Espina is the son of Edgarino Espina, a former Maasin City mayor who passed away six years ago.

Taliño said they received information that a certain Ric-ric, who had been checking in at All Sons Inn in Lorega since February, was allegedly selling illegal drugs.

Acting on the report, intelligence operatives conducted surveillance and even rented a room at the inn.

Taliño said that around 5 a.m. yesterday, his men saw in plain view a .45 pistol, a .22 revolver, a transparent plastic bag containing marijuana, and several sachets of suspected shabu and drugs paraphernalia, so they immediately arrested Espina.

"In plain view nakita nila, so pwede na nilang arestohin," he added.

Taliño said that there is a possibility Kerwin's colleagues in the illegal drug trade are now in Cebu.

"Possible na ang galamay ni Kerwin sa Leyte pumunta na nang Cebu… kasi palipat-lipat sila ngayon," he said, adding that Kerwin is wrong into thinking they could escape authorities by coming to Cebu.

Meanwhile, following the killing of his lawyer in Tacloban City the other day, Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa yesterday morning went to the regional and provincial police offices to volunteer as witness on the illegal drug trade in Eastern Visayas that is allegedly headed by his fugitive son Kerwin.

He did this a day after lawyer Rogelio Bato Jr., was gunned down by unidentified men in Tacloban City.

Espinosa was accompanied by his daughter, Mariel, and Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido, Albuera police chief, when he traveled to Tacloban to see Leyte Provincial Police Office Director Franco Simborio.

The mayor wanted to apply for inclusion into the witness protection program of the government because he would volunteer information about the drug activities of Kerwin and to divulge the names of top government and police officials involved in the drug transactions.

Espinosa feared for his life and family after Bato's death, convinced that he might be the next to be killed. He said some top officials- whom were linked to drugs earlier- may be behind the execution to cover their tracks

Simborio, however, was not in his office when Espinosa and Espenido arrived so they went to Palo, Leyte to see instead its Chief Superintendent Elmer Beltejar, Police Regional Office-8 director.

Espinosa yesterday said he would like to turn state witness and disclose to the police the names of top government officials who were part of Kerwin's illegal drug business.

Espinosa said he would cooperate with police investigators in looking into Kerwin's drug ring and the people involved, but he asked the police that he will be given protection by putting him in the witness protection program.

In a separate interview, Espenido told The FREEMAN that Espinosa confessed and bared the names of top Philippine National Police officials and other high-ranking government officials linked to illegal drugs. He, however, did not disclose to the media what Espinosa told Beltejar.

Espenido said they would also go to the Leyte Provincial Prosecutors Office to see if the mayor could qualify to stand as state witness against the illegal drug operations of Kerwin and other drug personalities.

"It is now in the hands of the DOJ (Department of Justice) officials whether Mayor Espinosa's confession can qualify him as state witness. We are here to assist and secure him," Espenido said.

Mariel, on the other hand, said family members felt they are no longer safe and that their lives are in danger after their lawyer was killed, adding that they might be the next target for liquidation. She alleged that only Kerwin, not their father, who is into the illegal drug trade.

In a separate interview, Beltejar said he already ordered a thorough investigation into Bato's death and the immediate arrest of the perpetrators. He revealed that the slain lawyer was in the PNP's drug watchlist of high value targets.

Also yesterday, Senior Superintendent Rolando Bade, Tacloban City Police Office acting director, said they were still facing a blank wall on the killing of Bato and the high school girl who was with him. He said Mayor Espinosa's revelations may be valuable in providing leads to the incident, the perpetrators, and the attack was related to illegal drugs.

And while Espinosa is helping the police go after his son and his cohorts, Taliño assured they would launch follow up operations in relation to Espina's arrest, especially on where his illegal drugs supply came from.

"Walang makakalusot sa atin sa dagat man o sa lupa," Taliño said.

Espina, though, vehemently denied any connection with Kerwin, claiming he does not even know them.

"Natingala ko ngano na-link ko," he said.

Espina denied he was a drug pusher, admitting instead that he was a drug user and that the illegal drugs found inside his room were for his own consumption.

He also said that the firearms were for his protection, although he said he has no enemy.

Espina said he stayed in the inn for quite some time after a misunderstanding with his wife, who is living in Barangay Lahug, Cebu City. —/RHM (FREEMAN)

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