Six people were killed in an encounter on Wednesday between policemen and the alleged hired underlings of a Leyte town mayor accused of coddling drug rings.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) confirmed that all six fatalities were Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa’s men, who supposedly exchanged gunfire in Sitio Tinago, Barangay Binolho at around 5:30 a.m.
PNP spokesperson Dionardo Carlos said police forces were patrolling around the village when they were ambushed by the suspects near the mayor’s three adjoining houses.
“The initial gunfire came from the suspected members of the Espinosa group and our police officers returned fire and fought it out,” Carlos said.
Residents told ABS-CBN News that the firefight lasted for several minutes.
Two of the assailants were killed near the mayor’s house; two near the house of the mayor’s son, Kerwin, who is allegedly a drug lord; and the other two in the first house of the mayor.
Authorities are pursuing six other suspects who ran to a suspected safehouse in Albuera, which police refused to divulge.
Recovered from the crime scene were 13 assorted long firearms, four caliber .45 pistols, and several rifle grenades, according to the PNP Public Information Office (PIO).
Police said the 12 were hit men of the alleged “Espinosa Group,” which is being linked to Mayor Espinosa and his son.
The encounter has left residents of the village fearing for their safety.
Last week, two bodyguards of Espinosa were arrested during a buy-bust operation in the same area.
President Duterte on Monday ordered Espinosa and his son, Kerwin, to surrender to authorities within 24 hours or else face shoot-to-kill orders.
Fearing for his safety, the mayor surrendered on Tuesday to Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.
Espinosa later admitted that his son is a top drug trafficker in Eastern Visayas.
Dela Rosa said Kerwin’s drug source is a certain Peter Co, and that the drugs come from a prison facility in Abuyog, Leyte.
Bato to mayor’s son: surrender or die
The Bureau of Immigration confirmed that Kerwin left for Hong Kong last June 1, after allegedly undergoing facial plastic surgery.
The older Espinosa was scheduled to appear before the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) at Camp Crame, Quezon City later Wednesday.
Ranulfo Docdocan, ABS-CBN News
Aug 03 2016
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