Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 24 September 2020

Philippine police kill father of drug suspect held in UAE

Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr was shot dead after firing at officers looking for arms and drugs in Baybay prison, police say.
Rolando Espinosa, mayor of Albuera Township on Leyte island in the central Philippines, is arrested on October 5, 2016. He was shot dead by police in his prison cell exactly one month later. Robert Dehon / EPA
Rolando Espinosa, mayor of Albuera Township on Leyte island in the central Philippines, is arrested on October 5, 2016. He was shot dead by police in his prison cell exactly one month later. Robert Dehon / EPA

BAYBAY // Philippine police shot a town mayor dead in his prison cell on Saturday.

It was the second killing in a week of a politician linked to illegal drugs under president Rodrigo Duterte’s violent campaign against crime.

Rolando Espinosa, the mayor of Albuera in the central province of Leyte, and another inmate were shot dead before dawn after they fired at officers who staged a raid in search of firearms and drugs in the provincial jail in Leyte’s Baybay city, police said.

Some Philippine officials and a crime watchdog called for an investigation into the killings.

They questioned how the men obtained weapons and what prompted them to clash with police while in prison.

“I can smell extrajudicial killing,” said senator Panfilo Lacson, the former national police chief.

The dead mayor’s son, Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr, who is also wanted for major drugs offences, was arrested in Abu Dhabi on October 16 after he fled the Philippines through Malaysia.

He is in custody in Al Wathba jail while police investigate whether he has committed any crimes in the UAE.

The UAE does not have an extradition treaty with the Philippines, but Manila will ask for Espinosa Jr to be repatriated if he faces no charges in the UAE.

Police killed another town mayor, Samsudin Dimaukom, and nine of his men in a gun battle last week in the southern Philippines.

Espinosa Sr and Dimaukom were among more than 160 officials named by Mr Duterte in August in a shame campaign.

Espinosa Sr surrendered to the national police chief in a nationally televised event and denied any part in the drug trade, but said his son had been peddling methamphetamines supplied by a jailed drug trader.

He was released, but arrested last month after being indicted on drugs charges and illegal possession of firearms.

Police estimate that more than 3,600 suspected drug dealers and users have been killed since Mr Duterte took office on June 30.

Many of those killed in the initial months were impoverished drug dealers. Police said high-value targets, including mayors and drug lords, would be the focus of a new phase launched last month.

* Associated Press with reporting from The National

Updated: November 5, 2016 04:00 AM

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