THE Philippine National Police (PNP) has transferred custody of alleged Eastern Visayas drug lord Kerwin Espinosa to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), The Manila Times learned on Thursday.
Espinosa was reportedly in handcuffs and wearing a bullet-proof vest when he was brought by operatives of the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) past 11 p.m., Wednesday, to the NBI office on Taft Avenue in Manila, a police source said.
The source, an officer of the PNP-AIDG based in Camp Crame in Quezon City, said the transfer came a week after a trial court in Baybay (Leyte) issued an order for Espinosa’s transfer from the PNP-AIDG to the NBI.
On December 6, 2016 Judge Carlos Arguelles of the Baybay Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 14 issued the order for Espinosa’s transfer to the NBI in the presence of the prosecutor and Espinosa’s lawyer.
The court had directed the AIDG to make the transfer within 10 days upon receipt of the order and that the police unit should then inform the court of its compliance with order within five days.
Arguelles said in his written order to the NBI director, “I hereby commit to you the live body of Rolan Espinosa aka Kerwin Espinosa to be kept in custody as detention prisoner subject to the order of this court.”
Espinosa had filed an application to be under the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Witness Protection Program (WPP).
Espinosa’s counsel, lawyer Leilani Villarino, had told the court that her client had been under the provisional coverage of the program.
Espinosa has been under the custody of AIDG since his arrest in Abu Dhabi in October, months after President Rodrigo Duterte had linked him and his father, late Albuera (Leyte) Mayor Rolando Espinosa, to the illegal drug trade.
Mayor Espinosa was reportedly killed after he and fellow inmate named Raul Yap fought off elements of the Eastern Visayas Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) who were serving a search warrant against him at the Leyte Sub-Provincial Jail early last month.
Members of the CIDG led by its chief, Supt. Marvin Marcos who were involved in the operation were placed under restrictive custody and are facing investigation.
Some of them have been named by Kerwin in his judicial affidavit as among those who received drug money from him. ANTHONY VARGAS