THE family of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando “Daddy Onik” Espinosa Sr. in Hipodromo, Cebu City expressed their grief and promised to seek justice for his death while behind bars.
Ramon Espinosa Jr., the elder brother of Rolando, said that the mayor recently requested another family member to bring his favorite pancit to the Baybay, Leyte Sub-Provincial Jail where he was detained.
At 4 a.m. yesterday, Rolando was shot dead by a team from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) 8 that carried a warrant to search his cell.
Another detainee who shared his cell, Raul Yap, was also gunned down.
The mayor, 54, was arraigned for his case just the day before he was killed.
“Wala mi magdahom nga mahitabo na niya kay during the time nga naa ko sa Leyte, giseguro gud ang seguridad sa akong manghud. Pero nganong karon, mahimo diay mosud ang usa ka police ngadto sa prisohan nga magda og armas? (We did not expect that it would happen to him because when I was in Leyte, we made sure that my brother’s security was tight. But now, why were the police allowed inside his cell with high-powered firearms?),” Ramon said in Cebu.
According to an initial report sent to Sun.Star Network Exchange by Albuera Police Chief Jovie Espenido, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) claimed that both Espinosa and Yap resisted, which was why the CIDG fired at them.
The team led by Chief Insp. Leo Larraga was trying to serve search warrants against both detainees. The mayor’s warrant was provoked by suspicion that he had illegal possession of a firearm, while that of Yap was in connection with a drugs case.
Malacañang ordered an investigation on Espinosa’s death inside the jail.
Espinosa’s son Kerwin remains under the custody of Interpol, after his arrest last Oct. 17 in Abu Dhabi.
Ramon said that his brother owned only one gun for his protection. He did not believe that he shot at the operatives as reported by the CIDG 8.
“Nanawag ang iyang anak pagka buntag, naghilak nga niingon nga, ‘Dad, gipatay si Daddy sa mga pulis.’ Unya niana ko, ‘Nganong gipatay man nga ang istorya nga inig kagabii bantayan siya’s mga pulis? Nganong nakasulod man nang CIDG? (His daughter called me over the phone, crying, “Dad, Daddy was killed by the police.’ I asked her, ‘Why was he killed when they were the ones who assured us that he would be guarded at night? Why did the CIDG managed to get inside?’),” he said.
Ramon also questioned Yap’s participation because he was not there when Rolando was first detained in the facility and arrived only a few days after.
“Ang human rights wala na gud. Labaw pa sa Martial Law. Kami karon pangitaan namo siya’g hustisya kay inosente man gud na siya’s mga kaso nga gipahamtang niya (So much for human rights. This is worse than Martial Law. We will seek justice for him because we believe that he was innocent of the cases filed against him),” he said.
Rolando was the second to the youngest among seven siblings.
Ramon also suspects that the one who orchestrated his brother’s death had been included in the names the mayor revealed in his affidavit.
He said that he will request the mayor’s daughters that he be buried in Cebu City, because he grew up here.
In an interview with broadcaster and Sun.Star columnist Bobby Nalzaro over DySS, Police Chief Espenido said that what happened to the mayor is now all up to God.
“Usbon gud unta ang sistema. Pero di man madayon kay wala man ta katagna nga mao diay na ang mahitabo. At least makakita ang tawo ba nga naa guy police nga mosulong ba (The system should be changed. But we could not have predicted what happened. At least the people will see that the police are willing to face this head-on),” Espenido said.
The Albuera chief had facilitated the mayor’s affidavit that named several personalities who allegedly received drug money in exchange for protection.
He has filed cases against those who were named.
The chief said that the CIDG 8 conducted a separate operation without coordinating with the local police.
“Nasayangan gud ko. Kay ato man siyang gitabangan og submit sa affidavit para ma convince atong court unta nga sila ang nag protect. Karon ang nahitabo nga namatay siya, masayang kay kahibaw baya kas Pilipinas nga patay na ang testigos, human pud ang estorya (It was such a waste. We helped him submit an affidavit to convince the court that he was not alone, that there were other drug protectors. Now with his death, everything will go to waste because you know what happens in the Philippines, when the witness is dead then that’s the end of the story),” he said.
8 days apart
Rolando is the second incumbent mayor who was killed after being tagged for their alleged involvement in illegal drugs. Eight days before Espinosa’s death, a police team gunned down Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom of Saudi Ampatuan in Maguindanao Province, along with nine of his men.
Both Mayors Espinosa and Dimaukom had been included on a list of personalities that President Rodrigo Duterte accused of selling drugs or protecting drug lords.
Both had surrendered previously to the police.
Espinosa was arrested last month, also by a CIDG team, for alleged possession of illegal drugs.
Reports by the Philippine National Police showed that 1,725 drug personalities have been killed, 31,629 arrested, and 751,703 surrendered as of Oct. 26. (With Ricky J. Bautista & Ruth Abbey Gita of Sunnex)