KAANYAG FESTIVAL. The municipality of Kananga in Leyte held its first Kananga Kaanyag Festival on June 11, with six contingents joining the cultural festival with prizes up for grabs. The festival is part of the 73rd founding anniversary of Kananga to be celebrated on June 17.Story on Page 20. (DOT Eastern Visayas)

Mayor says they are serious against illegal drugs

TACLOBAN CITY– The town of Albuera in Leyte continues to be affected by the drug problem, seven years after its former mayor and alleged drug protector Roland Espinosa, Sr. was killed while incarcerated.

The former town mayor’s son, Rolan ‘Kerwin’, a self-confessed drug lord, is still locked up in jail at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City due to drug-related charges.

Mayor Sixto de la Victoria admitted that while the drug problem in their town has been ‘minimized,’ there are still barangays of the town where illegal drugs continue to proliferate.
And one of these villages is Binolho, where the Espinosas reside.

“Of the 16 barangays of Albuera, three of them are not yet drug-free and this includes Binolho,” the mayor said during a June 8 interview.

De la Victoria said that they are doing their best, with the help of the police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to free the three villages from the influence of drug users.

“We have been doing our efforts to address the illegal drug problem involving these three barangays. We can say that we’re able to minimize the drug problem in these areas,” he said.

“We’ve known before as a killing field, with deaths left and right due to illegal drugs. But with our commitment to stamp out the problem, the problem has been contained,” de la Victoria added.

Aside from Binolho, the villages of Poblacion and Balogo were identified by de la Victoria where drug problems remain.

With the illegal drug problem now being addressed, they are now focusing their efforts towards promoting their tourism, notably with beaches and mountain resorts.

“Albuera is now peaceful. You can go there anytime. Tourists, even businessmen will not visit our town if we have a problem on peace and order,” de la Victoria said.

The town of Albuera has been known to be the illegal drug capital of Eastern Visayas with the Espinosas running the prohibited drug trade.

Former President Rodrigo Duterte named the elder Espinosa to be a drug protector as he waged his brutal campaign against illegal drugs.

The elder Espinosa was killed on November 6,2016 while being detained at the sub-provincial jail in Baybay City by the elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) after he was arrested due to illegal drug trade in October of the same year.
His son, Kerwin, was also arrested in October 2016 in Abu Dhabi.

He linked former senator Laila de Lima to the illegal drug trade.