Leyte congressman: Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa's affidavits crafted by police

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — A Leyte congressman on Wednesday accused the Albuera police of preparing affidavits for Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa and forcing him to sign them.

"As reported to me by no less (than) witnesses in Ormoc, the Albuera Police officers, assisted by obviously by a lawyer, prepared the affidavits of Mayor Espinosa," Leyte 3rd District Representative Vicente "Ching" Veloso said in the Senate probe on the killing of Espinosa.

Espinosa was shot dead earlier this month while in custody at the sub-provincial jail in Baybay City, Leyte. Police officials say Espinosa sneaked a gun into his jail cell and fired at policemen who were about to serve a search warrant. He was killed in the ensuing firefight.

Espinosa was earlier tagged by President Rodrigo Duterte as a "narco-politician" engaged in the drug trade. He was later arrested and detained in the Baybay City jail.

Authorities say Espinosa left behind two affidavits and a notebook that listed names of officials, police and media men allegedly involved in his son Kerwin Espinosa's drug transactions.

Also read: Gov't officials, police, media men among 'drug protectors' in Espinosa's pink notebook

Veloso was tagged in Espinosa's list as a drug protector, but the congressman repeatedly denied knowing the slain Albuera mayor or his son Kerwin.

Police have tagged Kerwin Espinosa as the drug lord behind the Eastern Visayas illegal drug trade.

Also read: 'Ormoc Mayor Richard Gomez, Leyte officials involved in drugs' – CIDG official

Veloso said that the creation of the list was part of a "dagdag-bawas operation" among the police.

"Essentially, per media reports, 226 were included in Mayor Espinosa's affidavits, but why is it that only 47 were charged? Ang laki po ng disparity [There is a huge disparity]," he said.

Veloso added that the affidavits and list were crafted "in order that these Albuera police officers can extort money from many of them in consideration for their being dropped from the affidavits."

He explained instances in which police officers in the region had been implicated — as well as the inclusion, and later removal,of a certain "Andres Cruz" in the affidavits.

"The signatures of the late mayor Espinosa as appearing in the August 24, 2016 and October 3, 2016 affidavits were forced," said Veloso.

The representative also found it suspicious that the affidavits did not come from Espinosa's family.

 

As Veloso questioned the origin of the affidavits, he also said the documents would not hold up in court under requirements from the Judicial Affidavit Rule of 2012.

Section 3 of the Rule contains provisions on language and legal counsel which Veloso believes that the affidavits do not follow.

"A judicial affidavit should be prepared in the language known to the witness, meaning Cebuano, because the late Mayor Espinosa, speaks in Cebuano," said Veloso.

He added that the affidavits did not have the required translations in English or Filipino.

 

"Also important is that the judicial affidavit should show the circumstances under which the witness acquired the facts which he testifies upon," Veloso noted.

He stressed that if these mandates were not met, "this judicial affidavit will not be admissible in court."

"In that regard, your honor, wala po akong ikakatakot [I am not afraid] in so far as… the affidavits of the late Mayor Espinosa (are concerned)," said Veloso.

"Walang gamit po ito [it has no use]. (It's a) plain scrap of paper," he added.

While Kerwin Espinosa admitted involvement in drugs, he said his father was innocent in the same hearing. On the signature on his father's affidavit, he said, "Hindi ito pirma ng papa ko [This is not my father's signature]."

 

Veloso also reiterated his own innocence, saying that he only became a congressman of Leyte in July.

"I do not know or have met the Espinosas," Veloso said.

He added that he was based in Manila from 1989 to the present, and therefore could not have exercised much influence in his home province.

"Under the law, our… jurisdiction here in Manila was limited only to cases in Metro Manila and Luzon," he said. "Leyte was under the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals-Cebu."

He added that he did not have time to so much as visit his parents, much more protect local drug lords.