MANILA, Philippines – How was suspected drug lord Kerwin Espinosa able to leave the country and who were the people who aided him?
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II wants the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to find answers to these questions amid reports that several personalities helped Espinosa in hiding abroad prior to his arrest in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
“The NBI should investigate how Espinosa was able to leave, how he managed to get a passport with another name and who helped him along the way,” Aguirre told The STAR yesterday.
Espinosa reportedly flew to Malaysia before he moved to Abu Dhabi.
Aguirre said those who aided Espinosa could face charges of obstruction of justice for harboring a fugitive.
“Those who helped him are criminally liable,” he said.
Earlier, Aguirre disclosed that Espinosa may be considered as a possible witness against Sen. Leila de Lima, who is facing preliminary investigation at the Department of Justice (DOJ) over the alleged drug trade at the New Bibilid Prison.
Aguirre said Espinosa may opt to spill the beans on his alleged links to De Lima.
De Lima and Espinosa were named respondents in the drug charges filed with the Office of the Ombudsman by Albuera, Leyte police commander Chief Insp. Juvie Espinido last week.
Also included in the complaint lodged at the Ombudsman Regional Office 8 in Tacloban City were Ronda town Vice Mayor Jonnah John Ungab of Cebu; Victor Espina; Winnie Codilla; Joseph Nunez and Nelson Pepito Jr., a councilman of Barangay Binolho in Albuera, as well as Leyte broadcasters Leo Dumon and John Pilapil and local newspaper publisher Lalaine Jimenea.
Espinosa and his father, Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., were among the first to be publicly accused by President Duterte of involvement in the drug trade.
Aguirre also said the elder Espinosa may be placed under the government’s witness protection program after coming up with an affidavit naming elected officials involved in illegal drugs.
De Lima, along with several congressmen and police officials, was among those implicated in the mayor’s sworn statement for allegedly receiving drug money from high-value inmates.
The mayor is being held at the Leyte provincial jail on drug charges.
Police raided the house of the Espinosas last July and seized around 11.5 kilos of shabu and a cache of high-powered firearms.
Meanwhile, police said Kerwin could not be deported yet to the Philippines.
Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos, spokesman for the Philippine National Police (PNP), said Espinosa remains in the custody of the Abu Dhabi Ministry of Interior for further investigation.
“Abu Dhabi authorities know that Espinosa is a high-value target. They transferred his custody from police to the Ministry of Interior,” Carlos told reporters.
Carlos said Abu Dhabi authorities are investigating whether Espinosa violated any law in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
According to the Philippine embassy in UAE, the deportation of Espinosa may be delayed since the PNP has to get clearance first from Abu Dhabi authorities.
PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said Espinosa was arrested by a team led by Senior Supt. Albert Ignatius Ferro, head of the PNP Anti-Illegal Drug Group.
Dela Rosa said they tracked down Espinosa n a tip from some overseas Filipino workers in Abu Dhabi.



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