TACLOBAN CITY- Alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa will be facing a new complaint.
And this time, it’s due to his possession of pythons inside his house in sitio Tinago, Barangay Binulho in Albuera, Leyte.
Last Saturday (August 13), a team from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and local police team went to the house of Espinosa, who remains at-large, to rescue 15 pythons.
“Our legal team is now readying the filing of a case against him for violation of Republic Act 9147 for possession of wildlife without permit,” DENR-8 Executive Regional Director Leonardo Sibbaluca said.
If found guilty, Espinosa could be imprisoned for 4 years at the maximum with a penalty of P300,000.
Crisostomo Badeo, chief of the conservation and development division of the DENR-8, said that they would ask veterinarians to check the condition of these animals which are considered as among the endangered.
“Based in our record, we did not receive any application from him seeking permission to keep these animals,” he said, referring to Espinosa.
Thus, the alleged drug lord could be charged for violation of Republic Act 9147 or the conservation and protection of wildlife resources, Badeo said.
Espinosa has been charged for illegal possession of prohibited drugs but were dismissed on grounds of technicality and lack of witnesses.
His father, Mayor Rolando Espinosa, Sr. has already been charged for possession of illegal drugs by the local police before the Leyte prosecutor’s office last Thursday.
According to Sibbaluca, they learned about the presence of these animals at the house of Espinosa through an informant who called him last Friday(August 12).
Immediately, he formed a team composed from the provincial environment and natural resources (PENRO), community environment and natural resources (CENRO) of Albuera and the local police and rescued the animals Saturday morning.
“I have to act immediately kasi kawawa na ang mga animals. They have been left without food for weeks now. They were already weak and hungry,” Sibbaluca said.
Of the 15 recovered pythons inside the house of Espinosa were 4 Burmese python, one green tree python and 10 reticulated pythons.
Each of the pythons, the biggest was four meters in length, were placed inside a cage located just at the entrance of the abandoned house of Espinosa.
The pythons could eat a young child if they could escape from their cages, Sibbaluca said.
The animals were immediately brought to the animal welfare center in Palo, Leyte where the Penro office is located.
These will be later release at the wildlife conservation park located at Mt. Mahagnao, Burauen town, also in Leyte.
The house of Espinosa has been abandoned after the August 3 gun battle between the alleged armed group and local police. (JOEY A.GABIETA/RESTY CAYUBIT)