As mayor Espinosa was laid to rest
By: JOEY A. GABIETA
ALBUERA, Leyte- Calls for justice echoed among the supporters and loved ones of slain mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. as he was laid to his final rest Sunday (December 4) at a Catholic cemetery, this town.
Close to 1,500 of Espinosa’s supporters joined his loved ones during his burial wearing t-shirts used during his campaign when he sought for mayor of the town during the May 9 elections.
The children and other members of the Espinosa clan wore white t-shirts with the words “fight for justice” printed on them.
“He was really a good man and always ready to help us his people whenever we came to him for a help,” Veronica Alajas,32 of Barangay Mahayag, said.
She together with other residents of Mahayag, the farthest village of Albuera more than 5 kms away from the town center, paid among themselves the vehicle that they used for them to attend the burial of their “Daddy Onik,” the moniker of the slain mayor.
Alajas narrated that she received financial help from Espinosa, who was not yet the mayor at that time, when a relative was in need for burial assistance.
“Of course we are sad that he is now gone. He was really a helpful man to us. We are aware that he was in the (illegal) trade) but still he helped us and the way he was murdered was just too much,” another resident, Marlene Velarde, 38 of Brgy.Tinag-an, said.
The two supporters of the slain mayor joined the call of the family that justice be served to the 54-year Espinosa who was gunned down at the Leyte subprovincial jail in Baybay City on November 4 after he reportedly engaged the members of the regional Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) when he was being served a search warrant for illegal possession of firearms.
Lawyer Lailani Villarino, one of the counsels of the family, said that while the former mayor was already buried, there remains several questions why he was gunned down.
“Everything is (still) hanging. Although the mayor was already buried, there are still questions regarding his death. There is still no closure,” Villarino said.
No family member of the slain mayor faced the media but assigned Villarino to answer the questions on their behalf.
Villarino said that the family is seeking justice over the murder of Espinosa.
A Philippine flag, put on the top of the white casket of the slain mayor, was folded and turned over to the family of the late mayor after his coffin was interred at his tomb.
White balloons were released by the children and other family members after Espinosa was buried shouting “we love you daddy!”
During the funeral procession, people could be seen along the streets as others were seen peering from their windows or doors.
At the 2 pm Requiem Mass held at the St. James Parish Church, Father Dennis Enocando, parish priest, expressed their bereavement over the killing of Espinosa.
“We assure the (Espinosa) family that we are with you in this time of your bereavement,” he said.
The other two priests of the parish, Frs. Dennis Son and James Sian Sital joined the Requiem Mass.
A sister of the slain mayor, Juliet Carol Drewberry, expressed the family’s gratitude for their support during their time of bereavement.
“Thank you for coming here,” she briefly spoke after the Requiem Mass.
The security during the burial was tight as policemen were seen in some corners of the routes of the funeral procession.
Leyte police provincial director S/Supt. Franco Simborio said that aside from the local police, he also augmented the security in the town during the burial of Espinosa.
“On top of the augmented forces during the burial, I have deployed 20 policemen to the family until such time that the threat against them subsides,” the police official said
Lawyer Leilani Villarino, who spoke before the members of the media, said that the family was happy on the turnout of the people during the burial of Espinosa.
“This shows that they loved the mayor,” she said.
Incumbent Mayor Rosa Nemeses attended the Requiem Mass.
The remains of the former mayor were finally laid to rest to a simple and unfinished tomb around 3 pm.
Cries coming from his loved ones and supporters were heard after the casket of the mayor was placed to the tomb.
Along the funeral procession, soldiers and policemen could be seen in full uniform.
Meantime, Villarino said that they would now shift their focus towards Kerwin who was not able to attend the burial of his father.
Kerwin, the alleged drug lord of the region, is detained at the Camp Crame of the Philippine National Police .
Villarino also said that they would await the result of the investigation conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation(NBI) and the Commission on Human Right for them to determine what would be their next legal action.
The NBI had already filed murder charge against the CIDG raiding team which was headed by Supt. Marvin Marcos.
The family claims that mayor Espinosa was killed and did not showed resistance when the CIDG team served a search warrant at the Leyte subprovincial jail.
The CIDG, however, maintained that Espinosa fought back reason why he was shot to death.