THE Justice department has asked the Philippine National Police to place Kerwin Espinosa, son of slain Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa, under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation instead of the police when he arrives from Abu Dhabi next week.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said he has communicated with PNP chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa about Espinosa.
“I wrote a letter to Gen. Bato [Ronald Dela Rosa] requesting that Kerwin be placed under the custody of the NBI pending determination if he is qualified to be admitted under the WPP (Witness Protection Program),” Aguirre said in a text message.
Kerwin’s father was killed inside Baybay sub-provincial jail last Saturday after he allegedly fought it out with the police who were serving a search warrant at 4 a.m. on Nov. 5.
The NBI, an attached agency under the DoJ, has already started conducting a parallel investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mayor Espinosa’s death.
Aguirre said Kerwin already expressed his intention to apply for protection under the WPP.
To be admitted to the WPP, Aguirre said, Kerwin has to execute an affidavit, which will be evaluated to determine if he is qualified to enter the program.
Once admitted, Aguirre said, Kerwin and his family will be under WPP.
Earlier, Senator Panfilo Lacson, who called for a Senate investigation into the death of the elder Espinosa, said the government must protect Kerwin to identify his protectors in the government.
Lacson said Friday Kerwin would be dead if he were detained with his father.
Interviewed over radio dzBB, Lacson quipped, “It’s good Kerwin was not here. If they father and son were both arrested and transferred to the sub-provincial jail, perhaps, both of them could have been killed. “
Kerwin is still detained at the Al Wathba jail in Abu Dhabi following his arrest on Oct. 17. He is expected to return to the country next week.
Lacson, chairman of the Senate committee on public order and illegal drugs, said the killing of the mayor seemed to be “premeditated” and a clear case of summary execution.
The slain mayor had earlier executed an affidavit linking Senator Leila De Lima and 225 government, military, police and judicial personnel to the alleged widespread illegal drug operation run by “Kerwin.
Lacson earlier said Kerwin must live to testify about the narcotics business in the country.
“He is the “be-all and end-all. He is the central figure in this matter,” Lacson said of Kerwin.
The senator also said Kerwin is the only one who could really identify the alleged drug protectors listed in the blue book of the slain mayor.
At the same time, he said, it was important to have corroborative testimony from another person.
“If we are to give weight only to his own testimony with a promise to make him a [state] witness, for me, that is wrong. If you promise to make him a witness, his testimony might be polluted or doubtful because an investigator can dictate on him [what to say],” Lacson said.
Aguirre said Thursday Kerwin has expressed his intention to be a state witness. He said Philippine Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Constancio Vingno Jr. informed him about Kerwin’s intention.
After the eight-hour hearing on Thursday, Lacson admitted he ha not yet established a clear motive why Espinosa and another inmate, Raul Yap were killed during a predawn raid by CIDG Region 8 operatives. last November 5.
“If they were acting on their own, that’s what we want to establish. What’s the motive?” he said.
So far, he said, there were indications that Espinosa’s death was premeditated, noting the raiding team’s request for the scene of the crime operatives (SOCO) even before they raided the jail to serve separate warrants of arrest to Espinosa and Yap.
Lacson also said there were telltale signs that the raiding team used the implementation of a search warrant in the jail to give its operation a semblance of legitimacy.