ORMOC City Mayor Richard Gomez was among the high government officials in Leyte who had been involved in the “Espinosa Drug Group,” according to the testimony of a police official during Thursday’s Senate investigation of the death of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.
The actor-turned-politician described as “ridiculous and outright laughable” the statement of Chief Inspector Leo Laraga of the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Region 8.
Laraga claimed that Gomez had been involved in the drug trade through his alleged ties with the slain mayor.
“I will not even dignify that with an answer. They should not drag me into their circus,” Gomez said.
He said he did not know the Espinosas.
“I have never met them and have never spoken to them,” Gomez said.
The other Leyte officials with alleged links to Espinosa’s drug operation were Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla, former Court of Appeals associate justice and now Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso, and Baybay City Vice Mayor Michael Cari.
Petilla also denied the allegation against him saying he had no links with the Espinosas and with illegal drugs.
Veloso denied any involvement in the illegal drug trade. In a Facebook post on Sunday, Nov. 6, the former justice denied his inclusion in the affidavit of the mayor, who had tagged him as a “protector” of the mayor’s son, alleged drug lord Kerwin.
The names of Gomez and the three other politicians were brought up when Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III asked Laraga why the CIDG had to apply for search warrants against the slain mayor from a court in Basey, Samar, and not from Leyte during the joint investigation of the Senate committees on public order and dangerous drugs and Justice and Human Rights.
Laraga, the leader of the CIDG team that raided Espinosa’s jail cell and allegedly traded shots with him, told the Senate panels they had to secure search warrants in Samar because most of the courts in Leyte were controlled by politicians and police officials there.
When Sotto questioned Laraga who those officials were, Laraga denied to name them.
But Sotto insisted that the inquiry was being held in aid of legislation. He also noted they needed to know the compelling reason to secure a search warrants from Samar.
“OK, your honor. Allegedly, the vice mayor of Baybay City, the governor of Leyte, the mayor of Ormoc City and the congressman of the third district of Leyte,” Laraga said.