TACLOBAN CITY –- Driven by fear for his life, Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa temporarily holds office at the town police station starting Thursday.
Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido, Albuera police chief, said the mayor occupies their investigation room after seeking a protective custody from the Philippine National Police (PNP).
The beleaguered local chief executive asked for protection after unidentified gunmen shot dead lawyer Rogelio Bato Jr. and a 17-year-old student on Tuesday in this city.
The lawyer, tagged as high value target by the regional police, is Espinosa's legal counsel and lawyer of the mayor's son Kerwin, the alleged top drug lord in Eastern Visayas Region.
The embattled mayor arrived at the police station around 9 a.m. on Thursday. A mattress was later delivered to his room where he will also stay overnight. The mayor's room is next to the police chief's office.
“We can assure the mayor’s safety inside the police station,” Espenido said. The local police provided chairs and a desk for the mayor to be able to work.
On Monday, Espinosa met with Espenido for the first time after the latter’s assignment on July 18. The meeting lasted for five hours.
The mayor allegedly linked to illegal drugs trade, formally sought police protection on Wednesday as he executed an affidavit disclosing names of government officials protecting drugs trade in the region.
Espenido welcomed the decision of the town mayor to ask for protective custody, saying: “This will assure as that we can arrest him immediately once warrant of arrest against him is released by the court.”
The police earlier filed cases against Espinosa for illegal drugs and illegal possession of firearms.
Espinosa surrendered to PNP Chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa on August 2 few hours after President Rodrigo Duterte demanded for his surrender and Kerwin within 24 hours or face a “shoot on sight.” The son remained at-large.
After four days, Dela Rosa kicked out Espinosa from his official residence after the son failed to meet the deadline for him to surrender.
The mayor was admitted in a hospital in Cebu after he left Camp Crame on August 6.
He returned to his hometown on Aug. 16 and stayed at the town hall day and night for about a week before he asked for police protection. (PNA)