TACLOBAN CITY – The Philippine National Police (PNP) is studying the possibility of revoking Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.’s authority over the police now that he is facing drug-related charges. Chief Insp. Ma. Bella Rentuaya, spokesperson of the PNP Eastern Visayas regional office, said the decision whether to strip the mayor’s supervision of the local police will depend on the progress of the case filed at the Leyte provincial prosecutor’s office. Rentuaya believed, however, that Espinosa never exercised his police power since he assumed post as the town mayor on July 1. “Since the mayor had not chosen a chief of police until the third week of July, the regional office assigned Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido as officer-in-charge,” the PNP official said.
As deputy of the National Police Commission (Napolcom), mayors have the authority to choose their chief of police.
The PNP presents three names to a local chief executive as possible chiefs of police. Revoking his supervision over the police mainly depends on the resolution from the prosecutor’s office. “We will respect whatever is the decision of the prosecutor,” Rentuaya said. Last week, the Leyte police provincial office and Albuera town police filed two cases against Espinosa for illegal possession of firearms and violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. Cases were filed following series of operations that led to the recovery of shabu, bomb components, and several firearms at Espinosa’s houses in Barangay Binulho, Albuera.
“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 when he returned to work on Tuesday (August 16) after more than three weeks of absence. The mayor reportedly left his hometown on July 22, just four days after Espenido assumed as police chief. Espinosa surrendered to PNP Director General Ronald Dela Rosa on Aug. 2, after President Rodrigo Duterte demanded for his surrender and son, Kerwin within 24 hours or face a “shoot on sight.” The son, alleged to be the biggest drug lord in Eastern Visayas, remain at-large. While at Camp Crame, the mayor claimed that he left the town because of death threats from Espenido. The police official denied the allegations and said that they are just doing their job to maintain peace and order. (SARWELL Q. MENIANO)