Mayor’s house surrender drugs, guns during raid
ALBUERA, Leyte—At least 11 kilograms of “shabu” worth P88 million were found inside the house of Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. during a raid on Wednesday morning. Police teams also recovered components to build explosives, a claymore mine and seven sets of uniforms of Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) police units inside Espinosa’s house in Sitio Tinago, Barangay Benolho, an interior village about 250 meters from the main road. It was the biggest haul of shabu in Eastern Visayas, where the distribution of illegal drugs is said to be controlled by the mayor’s son, Kerwin.
Senior Supt. Allan Cuevilla, police deputy director for operations in Eastern Visayas, said the items recovered from the mayor’s house showed that the elder Espinosa was involved in his son’s illegal operation contrary to the mayor’s claim. The elder Espinosa surrendered to Director General Ronald dela Rosa, Philippine National Police chief, on Aug. 2 before the lapse of the 24-hour deadline set by President Duterte for him and his son to surrender or face a shoot-on-sight order. The mayor denied that he was part of his son’s illegal drug operations and tearfully appealed to Kerwin to surrender. The elder Espinosa and his family stayed at the “White House,” the PNP chief’s official residence, until Aug. 6 when he went to Cebu City and had himself confined in a suite of a private hospital. The house was empty when policemen from the RPSB, Albuera police and the Leyte provincial police office conducted the raid around 6 a.m. on Wednesday.
Operatives found 11 packs of high grade shabu and the bomb-making components in a cabinet under the kitchen sink. The packs of shabu were placed inside a white plastic bag. Each pack was sealed with packing tape. Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido, Albuera police chief, said charges would be filed against the mayor for the shabu and bomb components found in his house.
A day before the raid, police conducted a series of operations against the Espinosas in a bid to gather evidence against the family. Police recovered high-powered firearms, a police uniform and two motorcycles that were hidden in different areas outside the compound owned by the Espinosas. One of the motorcycles was believed to have been used in the killing of Councilor Vicente Jabon who was shot dead in June. The items were discovered after a tip from one of Kerwin’s employees.
The police uniforms and a plastic bag containing a fragmentation grenade, a holster and a magazine for a .45-cal. pistol were buried beside the abandoned house of one of the men of Espinosa in Sitio Tinago 1, Barangay Benolho. Another plastic bag was found buried at the back of a chapel. It contained a submachine gun with three magazines and two silencers, a .45-cal. pistol with an extra magazine, 100 rounds of .45-cal. bullets, a jacket, bandolier and CCTV camera. According to the informant, it was also put there by one of Kerwin’s men last week after the bloody gunfight between policemen and Kerwin’s followers that killed six goons of the alleged drug lord.
Also recovered just 30 meters from the house of the elder Espinosa were two motorcycles without license plates. One of the motorcycles was identified by witnesses as the one used by the gunmen who killed Jabon in front of the barangay hall. The motorcycles were hidden inside a banana grove several meters from the house of the mayor.