ARAYAT – Former two-term Mayor Luisito “Chito” Espino and a barangay chairman of this town were Wednesday arrested by operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and local police during a dawn raid in Barangay Cacutud here.
Espino and Cacutud village chairman Rosendo Dizon, along with Romy Mallari, 42 and Rosauro Dillera, who are alleged members of a private armed group allegedly operated by the former mayor, were arrested while operatives were serving search warrant operation 23-2017 issued on February 7, 2017 by Judge Ana Marie Joson-Viterbo of RTC Branch 24 (Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija) against the former mayor for alleged illegal possession of firearms and narcotics.
Arayat Chief of Police Superintendent Samuel Sevilla said that CIDG personnel backed by two V-150 armored trucks, members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) and local police raided the house of Espino at around 4:00 am Wednesday.
However, the occupants of the house resisted and engaged the joint operatives in a gunfire which lasted for about an hour and injured one PNP-SAF member until the suspects surrendered.
Seized from the suspects' possession were an M16 assault rifle, three calibre .45 pistosl, a 9mm calibre pistol, three hand grenades, ammunitions for different kinds of firearms and six packs of suspected shabu.
Espino and the four other suspects were brought to the Pampanga Criminal Investigation and Detection Team field office for further investigation.
Violation of RA 10591, RA 9165, two counts of frustrated murder and and direct assault are now being readied against them.
Espino served as the local chief executive of this town from 2001 to 2007. He ran for his last term during the 2007 elections but bowed to incumbent Mayor Emmanuel “Bon” Alejandrino.