By Jeffrey Damicog
Alleged top drug lord Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr. wants to become a state witness and be placed under the witness protection program (WPP), the Department of Justice said.
This comes days after his father—Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.—was killed along with fellow detainee Raul Yap inside the Leyte sub-provincial jail in Baybay City after allegedly engaging in a firefight with the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG).
“Because of what happened to his father, Kerwin is afraid of his safety as well as that of his family,” justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said during a press briefing Thursday, November 10, saying that “we are going to accept him at the WPP” along with his family.
Aguirre said Kerwin relayed to the ambassador to UAE Constancio Vingno Jr. and former PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) acting head, Chief Supt. Alberto Ferro, of his desire to be put under the WPP.
But even before Kerwin’s request, “we have already determined that he be given the full protection of the law,” Aguirre said.
Ferro will head the three-man team who will fetch Kerwin on Sunday.
“Once they get the person of Kerwin and bring him back to the Philippines, they are going to turn over Kerwin together with any sworn statement so that we can consider him if he is qualified to be put under the WPP,” said Aguirre.
The secretary noted that Kerwin will be initially placed under PNP custody before being transferred to the DOJ.
Aguirre is confident that Kerwin will qualify for WPP: “Meron diyan jurisprudence, all other things being equal, (between) a government official, the other a private person, ang more guilty should be the government official.”
Prior to his arrest on October 17 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Kerwin had gone into hiding after he and his father were tagged as among Eastern Visayas’ biggest drug lords.
Before the mayor died, he implicated police officials and politicians in his affidavits naming persons involved in the narcotics trade.