THE killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa and inmate Raul Yap by elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Eastern Visayas in the sub-provincial jail located in Baybay City, Leyte is the second violent incident that happened inside a detention center in the country in less than two months. The first was in late September in the New Bilibid Prison.
At that time, the nation was jolted by the report that high-profile inmates Tony Co, Peter Co, Jaybee Sebastian and Vicente Sy were involved in a “rumble” inside the maximum security compound in Bilibid in Muntinlupa. Tony Co died from stab wounds while Peter Co, Sebastian and Sy were injured.
The incident happened while the House of Representatives was conducting an investigation into the illegal drug trade inside the Bilibid and on the alleged involvement of Sen. Leila de Lima in it, using as witnesses the high-profile inmates of the said facility. Sebastian had at that time refused to attend the hearings. Questions were, therefore, raised on why such an incident could happen in a maximum security area.
In the case of Espinosa, the CIDG in Region 8 served him and Yap a search warrant at 4 a.m. Saturday inside the jail in Baybay supposedly because of reports that they continued doing the illegal drug trade inside the facility and possessed firearms. Espinosa and Yap supposedly engaged the CIDG 8 elements in a firefight, resulting in their death. Various agencies are now investigating the incident.
While the Bilibid and Baybay incidents are not related to each other, these could have a negative effect on the country's criminal justice system and even the intensified drive against illegal drugs by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. Jails hold people that run afoul of the law and in the process are the most secured government facility. That one can be killed there does not make government look good.
Meanwhile, the Duterte administration’s drive against illegal drugs involves not only killing those who engage the police in a firefight but also encouraging suspected drug lords, pushers and drug users to surrender. That they can still be killed inside the jail would rule out the surrender option and force them to go underground or fight it out to the death with authorities.