MANILA — Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr., the alleged big-time drug lord in Eastern Visayas, seeks to be placed under the Witness Protection Program (WPP) of the Department of Justice (DOJ) once he returns to the country from the United Arab Emirates.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II made the statement after he received a letter from the Philippine ambassador to UAE Constancio R. Vingno Jr., saying Espinosa has expressed intention to be placed under the WPP.
“He could qualify for WPP because he appears to be not the most guilty (in the drug trafficking crime). When there’s someone else from the government, then that person could be the most guilty,” Aguirre told reporters in a press conference.
Aguirre said Kerwin must first execute an affidavit before he can be admitted to the WPP.
He said that while the affidavit executed by his father lost its probative value, he could corroborate it through his own affidavit.
Espinosa, who was arrested in the United Arab Emirates after months of hiding is set to return in the country as he would be fetched by a team from the Philippine National Police (PNP) next week from the UAE, Aguirre said.
He said three PNP officers are set to leave on Sunday for Abu Dhabi for this purpose.
Aguirre said once Espinosa arrives, he will be brought to the PNP custodial center first before he could be turned over with his sworn statement to the WPP custody.
Kerwin’s father, Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa, who was earlier tagged by President Rodrigo Duterte as one of the politicians linked to the illegal drugs trade, was shot and killed along with another inmate at the Baybay Provincial Jail last November 5.
Aguirre said that the government needs to be extra careful in securing Espinosa following the killing of his father.
The DOJ has already ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to probe the mayor’s killing during a supposed shootout with policemen serving a search warrant on gun charges.
Aguirre said Espinosa’s family also have to be secured since he also expressed fears for their safety.
“I was told even the family because of what happened to his father, Kerwin is afraid of his safety as well as that of his family. So either we are going to accept him at the WPP kasama yung pamilya nya (Either we are going to accept him alone or we will also place his family under the WPP),” he added.
Meanwhile, Senator Panfilo Lacson who spearheaded the probe on the killing of the Albuera town mayor says the government must protect Kerwin once he is brought back to the Philippines, as he can identify his protectors in government.
Sought for a comment on the ongoing Senate hearing, Aguirre urged Senator Leila de Lima to inhibit in the investigation on Mayor Espinosa’s killing since she was implicated by the latter in Kerwin’s illegal drugs operations. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA-northboundasia.com