SUSPECTED Eastern Visayas drug lord Kerwin Espinosa admitted Wednesday that he paid more than P300,000 weekly to bribe at least 20 top police officials in exchange for protection and funding for the elections—a revelation that made Philippine National Police chief Dir. Gen. Ronald dela Rosa shed tears at the Senate. Espinosa also said he gave P8 million in several installments to Senator Leila de Lima through her driver/bodyguard Ronnie Dayan.
At the hearing on the killing of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa, Dela Rosa told the senators that it was difficult for him to see the public losing trust in the PNP.
An emotional Dela Rosa said he loved the institution and vowed to cleanse the organization of corrupt cops.
Testifying during the hearing of the Senate committee on public order and illegal drugs, Espinosa, the son of the slain Albuera mayor, said he gave the chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Region 8, P/Supt. Marvin Marcos, P3 million after the official went to him to demand money for his wife’s vice mayoralty run.
“He got a total of P3 million,” Espinosa said, referring to the CIDG chief only as “Colonel Marcos” throughout the hearing.
Espinosa said it was Chief Insp. Wilfredo Abordo who introduced him to Marcos in the first week of May 2016.
In the meeting, he said, Marcos demanded money to bankroll his wife’s vice mayoral bid.
“My wife is running for vice mayor in Pastrana in our area, our funding is lacking,” Espinosa quoted Marcos as saying.
In exchange for the money, Marcos told Espinosa where police checkpoints would be, and in one instance, even had one moved to allow the drug lord’s men to get through.
“In other words, he [Marcos] was the protector of our people,” Espinosa said in Filipino.
Espinosa also said if his father won the mayoralty race in Albuera, Marcos would get a bonus. When the elder Espinosa won, they gave Marcos P500,000, Espinosa said.
Marcos denied all of Espinosa’s allegations during the same hearing, noting that he and his wife had lived separately long before the 2016 elections and that he would not possibly demand money to help her campaign.
In another incident, Espinosa said, a police general demanded millions of pesos through a middleman to provide protection for his drug operations.
Espinosa said he issued checks for a total of at least P6 million.
The P3 million was allegedly for Chief Supt. Asher Dolina, former Eastern Visayas police regional director, given through a middleman, Victor Espina, brother-in-law of former PNP officer-in-charge, retired deputy director general Leonardo Espina, in 2015.
Dolina received P300,000 monthly, while Victor Espina took P1.25 million, Espinosa said. P1.75 million was used to buy guns in Manila.
Former PNP OIC Espina denied any involvement with Espinosa, however, saying his brother-in-law merely used his name to transact with the suspected drug lord.
Espinosa said that some time in 2015, Victor Espina told him that Dolina was asking for P500,000 a month for “protection.”
Espinosa said he asked Victor to lower this to P300,000 because there were many others on his payroll.
The next day, he said, they agreed on the price, and Victor Espina went to his house and let him talk with Dolina. After a week, Espinosa deposited P2 million as an advance for Dolina’s monthly fee, so he could buy a sports utility vehicle.
Espinosa said he also paid Victor Espina P1.25 million and his brother Martin an agent’s fee. Espinosa said he had bank statements to prove the deposits.
Dolina is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1983. He is set to retire on Sept. 22, 2017.
In 2009, Dolina was dismissed after the Ombudsman held him liable for grave misconduct and dishonesty over a questionable P4.54 million procurement of rubber boats. But in June this year, the Court of Appeals reversed the Ombudsman’s decision, reinstating Dolina and 18 other officials.
Espinosa also identified other policemen, whom he said were on his monthly payroll. He described thse payments as “SOP” or protection money.
Espinosa also testified that he gave a total of P8 million to the former bodyguard and lover of Senator Leila de Lima.
He said he was able to comply with Dayan’s demand that the payments be made before the May elections.
Dayan was earlier named by President Rodrigo Duterte as the bagman who collected payoffs from convicted drug lord inside New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) to bankroll De Lima’s senatorial run.
De Lima has consistently denied the allegations, but admitted that she had an affair with Dayan.
Espinosa said he was driving in Anilao, Batangas in August when he talked to Dayan for the first time over the phone. He said he remembered Insp. Jovie Espenido, Albuera police chief, had told him that De Lima’s bodyguard wanted to talk to him.
Dayan told him he was instructed by De Lima to say she needed funds for the 2016 elections, Espinosa said.
Later, Espinosa said, he called up Jeffrey Diaz alias “Jaguar,” another suspected drug lord, who advised him to call the NBP to confirm that the demand was real.
Espinosa said he called Peter Co, a convicted drug lord detained in the NBP and asked him if he would enter into the transaction and if they would be protected.
He said Co told him: “OK, pare, OK yan. Wala problema (That’s OK, man. No problem.)”
Two days after the first call, he met Dayan and negotiations started.
Dayan introduced himself only as “Ronnie” and did not give Espinosa his last name.
He said Dayan wanted P2 million monthly, but he haggled this down to P700,000 on condition that he give him P2 million initially as goodwill money.
Espinosa said he handed the P2 million in a plastic bag to Dayan, who was driving a black Toyota Fortuner, while they were on the 5th floor of the SM Mall of Asia parking building in August 2015.
On Oct, 15, 2015, Espinosa met again with Dayan, who went to the meeting alone, to hand him bundles of cash worth P1.7 million at the Dampa restaurant on Macapagal Avenue.
Espinosa said he never made the monthly P700,000 payoffs because Dayan told him that “ma’am Leila” wanted P8 million before the election.
Espinosa said he also met De Lima at Burnham Park in Baguio City just to be sure that Dayan was not lying about the payoffs.
Previously, he had asked Dayan for a meeting with De Lima after the P8 million was paid. Dayan said that would not be a problem, but said the meeting could not be in Manila.
In Noember, Espinosa said he got a call from Dayan and told him they would meet at Burnham Park—and he was told to bring the P2 million with him.
While he was walking towards De Lima, he heard Dayan tell the Justice secretary, “Ma’am, si Batman,” referring to him by his drug alias.
After giving Dayan the P2 million, Espinosa entered the park with his family and had their picture taken with De Lima. Afterward, he shook De Lima’s hand and whispered to her that the money ws already there.
She just nodded, he said.
During the first week of February 2016, Espinosa said he again gave P2.3 million to Dayan when they met at the 4th floor Parking Building A, SM Mall of Asia.
Espinosa also cleared the names of some personalities and government officials, including actor-turned-politician Ormoc, Leyte Mayor Richard Gomez, who were linked to the “Espinosa drug group.”
Under questioning by Senator Panfilo Lacson, Espinosa denied transacting with Gomez.
When asked if Gomez was in his payroll, Espinosa said the Ormoc mayor was innocent.
Other officials named were Baybay Vice Mayor Mike Cari, Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso, a former appellate justice, and Leyte Gov. Leopoldo Petilla. All denied their alleged ties with Kerwin Espinosa.
Asked about Veloso, Espinosa said he did not know the congressman and had no dealings with him.
He also denied transacting with Petilla.
Espinosa said when he was transferred to the NBP, he met big-time drug pushers such as Laco Larranaga and Jusman Aznar. He was also being visited in the Medium Security compound by Hubert Webb and a Marco and convinced him to join the Sputnik after knowing that he’s into the drug business.
Retired police general and now Daanbantayan Mayor Vicente Loot threatened to file charges against Espinosa, who identified him as a drug trade protector.
“I will start with filing of charges against those who used my name in collecting drug money. This will now be the opportunity for me to clear my name,” he said.
“I am a victim of influence peddling by unscrupulous people. When a person has the rank, position, influence and credibility, his name is easily peddled and sold to law breakers by scalawags in the service or persons with personal interests,” he added.
In his affidavit, Espinosa claimed to have bribed:
Gen. Vicente Loot – P120,000 monthly
Inspector Rio Tan, Ormoc City police – P15,000 weekly
Jose Estopin, member of the intelligence unit of Ormoc City police – P15,000 weekly
A certain Villamor – P5,000 weekly
A certain Parak – P5,000 weekly
Major Abordo – beginning P12,000 until he received P80,000 weekly as Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG) officer
Supt. Santi Noel Matira – P15,000 to P25,000 weekly
A certain Senior Inspector Chua – P15,000 weekly
A certain Senior Inspector Jabinez – P15,000 weekly as chief of Albuera Police Station
A certain Senior Inspector Camacho – no amount mentioned
SPO3 Bituin – P8,000 weekly as check point team leader
A certain Magamay – P10,000 weekly ass chief of check point
A certain Sir Arafol – P5,000 weekly as member of checkpoint team
Capt. Angay-Angay – P15,000 weekly as chief of CIDG Ormoc City
A certain Ludo – P15,000 weekly as chief of Ormoc City Station 3
A certain Torrifiel – P10,000 weekly as member of CIDG
A certain Macanas – P25,000 weekly as Ormoc City Police Director. With John Paolo Bencito