TACLOBAN CITY, Aug. 16 (PNA) –- Embattled Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa, Sr. returned to his hometown Tuesday morning, denying all accusations hurled against him.
“I will face all charges that they filed against me. The truth is that I am innocent. I was not here during police operations,” Espinosa told reporters in a brief interview at his office.
Greeted by hundreds of supporters outside the town hall, the mayor arrived past 8 a.m. through a fast craft from Cebu City. Accompanied by two of his daughters, the mayor had no security escorts.
“The people in Albuera love me. They voted for me because they know that I am a good person,” he said.
Espinosa said his family will just stay at the town hall for security reasons.
The mayor was admitted in a hospital in Cebu after he left Camp Crame on August 6. He claimed that Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald dela Rosa advised him to seek hospital confinement after complaining of chest pain.
Last week, the PNP filed cases against the mayor after PHP88 million worth of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) and bomb components were recovered in a raid at his ancestral home in Tinago Dos, Benolho village, Albuera town on August 10.
The local chief executive is also facing raps for illegal possession of firearms and maintaining private armed groups that allegedly perpetuated murder cases in northwest Leyte areas.
The private armed group is allegedly led by the mayor and his son, Rolando Jr. known as Kerwin, purportedly a top drug lord in Eastern Visayas.
At least six
members of the group were killed during an encounter with the police early morning of August 3.
Espinosa surrendered to Gen. Dela Rosa on August 2, a few hours after President Rodrigo R. Duterte demanded for his surrender and of his son, Kerwin within 24 hours or they
would face a “shoot on sight” order. The son remained at large.
After four days, Dela Rosa kicked out Espinosa from his official residence after Kerwin failed to meet the deadline for him to surrender.
Albuera, a 3rd class town in Leyte province, is about 123 kilometers northwest from Tacloban, the regional capital. It has 16 villages and is a home to Bisaya-speaking people. (PNA)
SARWELL Q. MENIANO