Philippine mayor killed in prison

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Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte
Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte

A local mayor from a Philippine town detained on drugs charges and a fellow inmate were killed in a shoot-out with police inside a provincial jail, officials said Saturday.

Police conducted a raid on the jail in the city of Baybay in the province of Leyte after receiving a tip that Rolando Espinosa, mayor of the town of Albuera, had a stash of firearms and illegal drugs inside the prison.

Superintendent Marvin Marcos, chief of a regional police criminal investigation unit, said police had search warrants for Espinosa and another inmate, Raul Yap, when they conducted the raid.

“Our informant told us that the two suspects had firearms and were still dealing drugs from inside the provincial jail,” Marcos told a Manila radio station. “We were serving the search warrants when the firefight ensued.”

Espinosa and Yap were killed in the shoot-out, Marcos said.

Chief Inspector Elizabeth Jasmin, a spokeswoman for the police criminal investigation unit, said police will seeks an investigation on why Espinosa and Yap were allowed to have guns in their cells.

She added that several sacks of methamphetamine hydrochloride, locally called “shabu,” were seized from the two suspects’ cells after the shoot-out.

But police ordered an investigation into the operation, amid speculation that Espinosa was deliberately killed during the pre-dawn raid, said chief superintendent Elmer Beltejar, a regional police director.

Espinosa was arrested on October 5 after police seized 11 kilograms of shabu during a raid on his house in Albuera.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier identified Espinosa as one of more than 100 local politicians allegedly involved in the illegal drugs trade in the country, which he has vowed to eradicate.

Duterte’s aggressive drug war has been criticized for allegedly ignoring the rule of law and violating human rights, with more than 1,700 suspects having been killed in police operations since July 1.

Police are also investigating the deaths of 2,153 people during the same period to determine if they are related to illegal drugs.(dpa/NAN)



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