AT LEAST 11 kilos of shabu worth around P88 million were confiscated from an ancestral house owned by Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. in Sitio Tinago II, Barangay Binulho in his town.
Senior Superintendent Jovie Espinido, Albuera’s police chief, said the police entered the premises after getting a search warrant from Judge Carlos Arguelles of the Leyte Regional Trial Court Branch 14.
Only the caretakers were present during the search, and he police said they found the shabu placed in 11 plastic bags inside a cabinet under kitchen sink.
Also seized, according to Espinido, were components used in making improvised explosives, as well as seven new camouflage uniforms bearing patches of the Philippine National Police.
The contraband were found stashed among gallons of coconut wine, according to a radio dySS report.
Cebu City Police Director Joel Doria advised hospitals in the city to inform the police if Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. is staying with them.
“Right now, lahat ng hospital pinapuntahan namin. Kahit alam namin na nandito sa mga hospital, they keep on denying (Right now, we instructed our teams to visit all the hospitals. We know he’s in a hospital, but they keep on denying it),” Doria said.
A GMA 7 news report, quoting one of the mayor’s brothers, said the Espinosa was scheduled to undergo surgery in Cebu City.
Last August 2, Espinosa presented himself to Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald dela Rosa, after President Rodrigo Duterte issued a shoot-on-sight order against him and his son due to their alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade.
Espinido, the Albuera police chief, said they could have seized more illegal drugs in the house had the search warrant been issued earlier.
It was the same house where the Regional Public Safety Battalion had an encounter with the alleged guards of Espinosa last Friday, which resulted in the killing of six people and the recovery of high-powered firearms.
The PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group has filed cases in relation to illegal drugs and illegal possession of firearms against Espinosa and his son Kerwin.
The mayor’s son remains at large.
For its part, the Police Regional Office (PRO)-Central Visayas said it will coordinate with counterparts in Eastern Visayas after the confiscation of the P88-million shabu stash.
Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, the PRO-Central Visayas director, said that according to their monitoring, Espinosa is in a private hospital in Cebu.
The police official said they are ready to arrest Espinosa, if instructed to do so.
Espinosa reportedly arrived in Cebu last Saturday afternoon from Manila.
Doria said that the Cebu City police cannot pick up Espinosa yet, for lack of an arrest warrant. But he also urged hospital administrators to ask for assistance, for their own facilities’ security.
“Hindi rin naka register yung name niya so di mo makikita sa records, pinaverify natin pero wala. Sa lahat ng hospitals nahihirapan tayo (His name is not registered in any hospitals in the city. You can’t see it anywhere. We are in a difficult position with the hospitals),” he said.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Propagation Society of Cebu, Inc. (IPSCI) submitted yesterday to Taliño its list of police officers and civilians allegedly involved in illegal drugs.
Taliño said they will validate the information. He thanked the Muslim community for its support.
Fredie “Muhammad Arafat” Lozano, the IPSCI president, said they are helping the police because illegal drugs are a menace to society.
The group has more than 800 members, he said, who are against illegal drugs and willing to give information to the police.
“We cannot deny aduna tay mga igsuon nga involved gihapon, no. Dili man ta perpekto. (Some of our brothers and sisters are involved. We are not perfect.) Maybe, it’s a big risk on our part because we are not police or law enforcers, but we are aware of our responsibilities,” Lozano told reporters yesterday.
From July 1 until 6 a.m. last Aug. 10, at least 102 suspected drug pushers have been killed in police operations and summary executions carried out by unidentified assailants.
The police have killed 54 alleged drug pushers, while unidentified gunmen killed 48.
Taliño said they are still investigating to identify the assailants. (Third Anne P. Malonzo/Sunnex)