AN ALLEGED hitman of the slain Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa was shot dead Wednesday morning, August 9, in Purok 15, Upper Piedad, Bato Village, Toril District, Davao City.
The slain man was identified as Leonardo Jake Bolanio dela Cruz, with aliases Leonard and Daot, a resident of Purok 15, Upper Piedad, Barangay Bato. He was killed after he resisted arrest Wednesday.
Police said the suspect has a series of murder and other cases filed against him, and believed to have been behind the death of at least 20 persons.
Chief Inspector Ronald Lao of Toril Police Station said four warrants for Dela Cruz's arrest were served Wednesday by joint operatives of the Philippine National Police-Regional Intelligence Unit (PNP-RIU) Eastern Visayas and RIU-Davao Region, together with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Davao Region and Toril PNP.
The warrants served were for the killing of two policemen in Albuera, Leyte.
There are also warrants of arrest for violation of the Republic Act (RA) 8294 (high powered firearms), RA 10591 (Illegal Possession of Firearms and Ammunition), and RA 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002).
"Matawag nga tirador siya sa mga Espinosa. Naa ta'y info nga og madakpan ni sa Albuera, Leyte, makagawas lang gihapon sa impluwensya sa mga Espinosa (He can be regarded as a hitman of Espinosa. We have information that whenever he is arrested in Albuera, Leyte, he is freed immediately after because of the influence of Espinosa)," Lao said.
Police said the suspect was common-law husband of Espinosa's daughter, Marie.
"Hitman ni siya, kay apil siya permi sa pagpamatay sa Albuera, kay kung gi-file tanan, moabot og 20 ka warrant tungod daghan siya'g gipamatay (He was a hitman since he was always involved in killings in Albuera. Had cases been filed for the killings he was accused of, the warrants could reach 20 because he is accused of killing many people)," Lao added.
Taken from the suspect's possession was an Uzi sub-machine gun.
Fled from Leyte
It has been said that right after then Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte won the presidency, the suspect fled Albuera, Leyte.
The suspect was already in hiding after Duterte released the narco-list and the Espinosas were included in the list.
The common-law partner of the suspect said she is not aware of Dela Cruz's wrongdoings since she last saw him in 2016 after he fled Albuera.
Lao said the suspect has a number of relatives in Barangay Daliao in Toril, that is why he found a safe haven there.
The owner of the boarding house Dela Cruz was renting a room in did not even know that he was a wanted person.
"Sa Daliao, mga Dela Cruz mga paryente daw na sa suspek base sa atong pagpanubay (He's related to the Dela Cruzes in Daliao, we were told)," Lao said.
The body of the suspect is now at the Angel Funeral Parlor of Toril in Davao City. (SunStar Davao)