SAYING he could not blame the public for their lack of trust in men in uniform, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa turned emotional during a Senate inquiry on Wednesday into drug kingpin Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr.’s claims to have bribed police officials in Eastern Visayas.
Espinosa, who was flown on Friday to Manila from the United Arab Emirates where he hid after he and his slain father Rolando Sr. were linked by President Rodrigo Duterte to the illegal drug trade, admitted to giving PNP officials regular “payola” or bribes.
The tough-talking de la Rosa broke down after being questioned by Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri on how the PNP could be cleaned up considering many police officials had been linked to illegal drugs.
De la Rosa tried to hold back his tears as he admitted he no longer knew whom to trust.
“I’m leaving the fate of this PNP to God. I really want to reform the PNP. But I’m having a hard time,” he said in Filipino. “But I will never surrender.”
Supt. Marvin Marcos, head of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Eastern Visayas accused of deliberately killing Kerwin’s father Rolando Sr. early this month as well as receiving drug money, also became emotional.
“Masakit din ito para sa pamilya namin—pamilya ko, members ng CIDG. Nagtatrabaho lang po kami [It is painful for our family, my family, members of the CIDG. We are just doing our job],” he said.
P3M for police official’s wife
Espinosa claimed to have given P3 million to Superintendent Marcos whose wife allegedly used the money to finance a run for vice mayor in Leyte last May.
Marcos was with the CIDG team that carried out the November 5 dawn raid at the Baybay City sub-provincial jail that led to the death of Rolando Sr., the mayor of Albuera town in Leyte.
Espinosa said Marcos was introduced to him in May by a police officer he identified as Chief Insp. Wilfredo Abordo. Abordo, he said, had been receiving protection money since 2012.
Marcos called up and asked for P3 million, but Espinosa said he told Marcos he could only raise P2.5 million. Espinosa said he gave Marcos P1.5 million at the Zeelan Hotel and another P1 million the next day.
Marcos received an additional P500,000 after Rolando Sr. won the mayoralty race in Albuera.
‘Loot, Dolina got payoffs’
Espinosa also named Chief Supt. Asher Dolina, former Eastern Visayas police regional director and former police general and now Daanbantayan, Cebu Mayor Vicente Loot as among those receiving pay-offs from him.
Dolina allegedly demanded P500,000 monthly “SOP” or protection money sometime in 2015 but brought it down to P300,000. Victor Espina, supposedly a relative of former PNP officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina, acted as middleman, Espinosa said.
Loot, Espinosa said, had been receiving P120,000 a month since 2011, when he was deputy director of the Eastern Visayas police. Loot was one of the five active and retired police generals accused by President Duterte in July of protecting illegal drug operations.
According to Espinosa, it was Chief Insp. Leo Laraga who contacted him sometime in 2011 and informed him that he needed to give “protection money” to Loot.
Laraga allegedly demanded P120,000 per month from Espinosa – P100,000 for Loot and P20,000 for Laraga.
He also named Supt. Santi Noel Matira as among those receiving monthly payoffs
Laraga and Matira were members of the CIDG team that killed Rolando Sr.
Loot denied the accusations on Wednesday, saying his name was used by influence peddlers. He vowed to press charges.
Kerwin clears actor
Espinosa also cleared his slain father as well as other personalities including Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez of involvement in illegal drug operations.
He told the Senate committee the signatures found on the affidavit that named Gomez and others as drug protectors, supposedly executed by his father, were forged.
It was Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Illegal Drugs, who asked Espinosa to talk about the names mentioned in the affidavit.
Espinosa also cleared Leyte Rep.Vicente Veloso, Gov. Leopoldo Petilla, Vice Gov. Carlo Loreto and Baybay Vice Mayor Mike Cari.
Espinosa claimed the former head of Albuera police, Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido, wanted to implicate his father over a political rivalry.