FORMER police general and now Daanbantayan, Cebu Mayor Vicente Loot denied on Monday that he used to receive payola for protecting self-confessed Eastern Visayas drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.
In his statement during the resumption of Senate hearing on the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa, Loot claimed not knowing the younger Espinosa, as well as Chief Inspector Leo Laraga.
“From what Kerwin has bared in his chamber, his statement showed that we don’t know each other ever since. He has no personal transaction either by phone or in person, no jail visit had ever happened in 2015. From the very beginning, the intelligence report that was fed to the President which was made as a basis for me being dragged (in the) claim was baseless and fabricated,” he said.
“That the conduit between Kerwin and I, a certain Leo Laraga is not known to me. I don’t remember knowing him personally or was he ever assigned under me in my previous unit assignment. Si Kerwin at Laraga ay parehong hindi ko kilala,” Loot added.
Earlier, the younger Espinosa said he was giving P120,000 monthly to Loot through Laraga, starting in 2011.
“Late 2011, naririnig ko na ang pangalan ni General Vicente Loot, dahil naging deputy siya sa PRO 8 (Police Regional Office-Eastern Visayas). Tumawag sa akin si Jaguar (Jeffrey Diaz), sabi sa akin mainit sa kin si Loot. Sinabi ni Jaguar paano palamigin, sinabi niya may tatawag sayo para mapalamig si General Loot,” Kerwin recounted in the previous probe.
Espinosa said he then received a call from someone who introduced himself Leo Laraga, a policeman.
“Sabi niya hindi ka naman na bata alam ko na daw ‘yung punto ng pag-uusapan namin. Ang sabi ko naman walang problema basta kaya ko lang,” he said.
Espinosa said he was giving P120,000 monthly to Laraga: P100,000 is for Loot, while the remaining P20,000 is for Laraga.
However, the younger Espinosa admitted that he never met Loot nor Laraga face to face as they only transact through cell phone.
Loot, for his part, said he believes that his name was just used in order to get money from Espinosa.
“Kung totoo ang sinasabi nila, klaro na may nakinabang na binigyan ng pera matapos gamitin ang pangalan ko. Clearly again I’m a victim of influence peddling and name dropping practice done by subordinates which is very common in the PNP,” he said.
"Kung ikaw ay commander may kredibilidad at mabait at madaling maibenta ang pangalan mo at mapagkitaan ng influence peddlers. Kung pagbabasehan ang hierarchy of payola ni Kerwin base sa ranggo ang laki ng ibinibigay, klaro na may low ranking police officer o non-police commissioned officer na gumamit ng pangalan ko para lumaki ang take niya weekly,” he added.
Loot said Kerwin should have confirmed it from him personally if he really was the one accepting the money he was allegedly giving through Laraga.
The mayor also denied the accusation of Superintendent Noel Matira that he, along with Chief Superintendent Asher Dolina, prevented them from arresting Kerwin, who was a known drug trader in their area.
“Pagkakaalam ko pag-alis ko ng PRO 8, noong December 26, 2012, nakakulong na si Kerwin sa Ormoc City Jail at naaresto base sa warrant of arrest galing sa Cebu pagkatapos na ibigay ko sa operatives ang information na may warrant siya sa Cebu,” he said.
“This statement is obviously perjurious and in a cover-up of Matira’s inefficiency. Ito po ay isang palusot para ipain sa iba at mapagtakpan ang kanyang kakulangan sa pagganap sa trabaho,” Loot added.
Earlier, when asked why Espinosa continued illegal drugs operations in their area for a long time, Matira said they cannot “touch” him due to the influence of their higher officials, including Loot and Dolina.
Matira and Laraga were among the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) region 8 operatives who served the search warrants to the older Espinosa.
Laraga admitted killing the older Espinosa after his alleged resistance. (Sunnex)