MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa minced no words on Tuesday, August 2, as he stood beside a town mayor from the Visayas with supposed links to the illegal drugs trade.
“Kung hindi ito siya nag-surrender at may armas...papatayin ko talaga ito,” said Dela Rosa during a press conference at Camp Crame. (If he did not surrender and if he was armed, I’d really kill him.)
It was hours after Rolando Espinosa Sr, mayor of Albuera town in Leyte, surrendered amid allegations that he was a protector of his son Kerwin, an alleged drug lord.
Espinosa waited in Camp Crame from 7 am on Monday, August 1, until 4 am Tuesday to place himself under the custody of Dela Rosa. On Monday evening, no less than President Rodrigo Duterte called on Espinosa and his son to surrender within 24 hours.
Should the Espinosas fail to surrender and if they resisted arrest by law enforcement personnel, Duterte said he would give a “shoot on site” order against the father and son.
Espinosa is accused of involvement in the illegal drug trade after P1.9 million worth of shabu was discovered in a tennis court near his home during a police buy-bust operation in Albuera on July 28.
Since there are no pending cases against Espinosa, Dela Rosa said the mayor would be allowed to walk away "scot free," as soon as he’s done talking to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
“Ang hahawakan lang namin diyan is that alam namin na siya'y drug lord...at pag siya ay pupuntahan ng pulis at pag siya'y lumaban...'wag siyang lumaban 'pag [ayaw niyan] mamatay,” the PNP chief said of the younger Espinosa.
(The shoot-on-site order is based on our knowledge that he’s a drug lord. If the police go to him and he fights back…. Well, he shouldn’t fight back because he will be killed.)
Espinosa said he voluntarily surrendered because he was scared. “Natakot talaga ako kasi gusto kong mabuhay (I got scared because I want to live).”
The mayor admitted being privy to his son’s illegal activities, but denied using any of his son’s drug money to fuel his campaign.
“No. I used my own money. My family is in the US. I have my mother, my sisters, my brothers.... They helped me during election time,” he added.
But Dela Rosa thinks otherwise. Asked if he believed the mayor’s narration, the PNP chief said it’s likely Kerwin gave election funds to his father, but said there was a chance the mayor was unaware that the money came from drugs.