Filipino mayor killed in prison shootout

  • 06/11/2016
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (Reuters)
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (Reuters)

A Mayor on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's list of top drugs suspects has been killed during a shootout at a prison, police say, in the latest high-profile killing in his bloody war on narcotics.

Rolando Espinosa, Mayor of Albuera town in central Leyte province, turned himself in to the national police chief in August after Mr Duterte asked him and his son, Kerwin, to surrender over their involvement in the drug trade.

Espinosa was later allowed to go home but on October 5 was arrested on charges of illegal possession of drugs and firearms.

The shootout took place after Espinosa and inmate Raul Yap fired at a team from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group who were on a mission to serve a search warrant against the detainees for firearms and illegal drugs, police said.

"As a matter of procedure, this incident will undergo investigation to establish the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident," Eastern Visayas Regional Police Chief Superintendent Elmer Beltejar said.

Some lawmakers expressed alarm over the killing of Espinosa inside his detention cell, with the chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, Senator Richard Gordon, describing it as a "slap in the face" of the country's criminal justice system.

Mr Gordon said he may file a resolution to look into such drug-related killings, while Senator Panfilo Lacson was quoted by local media as saying that Espinosa's death was "a clear case of EJK (extrajudicial killing)."

Police said they recovered two pistols from the cells of Yap and Espinosa and a sachet containing suspected methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia were also found inside Espinosa's cell.

Espinosa had publicly denied any part in the drug trade but said his son was peddling "shabu" (methamphetamine), which he gets from a jailed Chinese drug trader.

Espinosa's son, Kerwin, was arrested by Abu Dhabi police last month.

More than 2300 people have been killed in police operations or by suspected vigilantes in connection with the anti-narcotics campaign since Mr Duterte took office on June 30.