BY: ROEL T. AMAZONA, VICKY C. ARNAIZ, LIZBETH ANN A. ABELLA, JAZMIN
BONIFACIO and JOEY A. GABIETA
TACLOBAN CITY- Leyte officials who were earlier implicated to the illegal drug activity felt vindicated after Kerwin Espinosa cleared their names as among their protectors.
Espinosa, considered as the region’s drug lord, during his appearance at the Senate on Wednesday (Nov.23) said that no officials from Leyte received money from them.
Earlier, Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla, Vice Gov. Carlo Loreto, Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez, Baybay City Vice Mayor Michael Cari and Rep. Vicente Veloso were tagged as among drug protectors of the Espinosa drug group.
The officials were allegedly named by murdered Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. in his affidavit.
But Kerwin said that he had no dealings with the five officials as he claimed that the signature of his father that appeared at the affidavit was forged.
Rep. Veloso said that he was sure that eventually he would be vindicated as he never knew or met either the slain mayor or his son.
“I don’t even know them from Adam,” the solon said.
Veloso added that the affidavit alledegely containing the signature of Mayor Espinosa was defective and a sham reason why he was confident that he would be vindicated.
“I am very, very innocent on this issue. I knew all along that the affidavit was defective. I am thankful that I was vindicated and cleared,” Veloso said.
Gov. Petilla also sounded victorious on Kerwin’s clearing his name to any illegal drugs activity.
“I feel victorious. This is one of the victories on battle against illegal drugs because the truth was revealed about the questionable affidavit that was executed with our names on it,” Gov. Petilla.
“If the truth was not revealed, the innocent people are the ones who will suffer and get implicated and the people who are actually involved will remain free. That is why I would say that this is a victory in the battle against illegal drugs,” the governor added.
Vice Gov. Loreto, meantime, said that he was sure that his name will be cleared as he insisted that he had not dealt with the Espinosas in so far as their illegal drug trade is concern.
“I am happy that I have been finally cleared from the issue. This is a vindication of my name and we are glad that the truth has come out,” he said.
Vice Mayor Cari, a cousin to both Petilla and Loreto, said that he could now sleep soundly after Kerwin cleared him.
“I’m glad my name is cleared. I can now sleep soundly. But the damage has been done to me and to my family,” Cari said.
Ormoc Mayor Richard Gomez also said that finally, the truth has come out as no less than Kerwin cleared him.
“We will never be involved in drug trade. And what happened the past months are political handiworks by Albuera police chief (Chief Inspector) Jovie Espenido and the Codillas,” Gomez said.
Kerwin tagged Espenido as close to the Codillas, a political clan in Leyte’s fourth district considered as the arch political enemy of the Gomezes.