MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Saturday offered no response to the report that Albuerra town Mayor Rolando Espinosa was killed after a shootout with police.
“Right now it’s really under investigation so wala po tayong actual na komentaryo patungkol diyan,” said Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella over government-run radio dzRB.
Espinosa was killed by police after he and another detainee named Raul Yap allegedly resisted arrest on Saturday early morning.
Based on reports, operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of Region 8 tried to serve a warrant for the mayor in connection with illegal possession of firearms inside his cell.
An anti-crime watchdog has called for an investigation of the circumstances of the killings, wondering how the slain mayor and the other inmate got hold of guns and what prompted them to clash with several policemen while in detention.
Last week, police killed another town mayor, Samsudin Dimaukom, and nine of his men allegedly in a gunbattle in Makilala town in North Cotabato.
Espinosa and Dimaukom were among more than 160 officials named publicly by Duterte in August as part of a shame campaign.
His son, Ronald “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr., an alleged drug lord, was arrested in the United Arab Emirates’ capital city of Abu Dhabi last month.
After being linked by Duterte to illegal drugs, Espinosa surrendered to the national police chief in August in a nationally televised event. He was later released but was arrested last month after being indicted on drug and illegal possession of firearm charges.
Police estimate that more than 3,600 suspected drug dealers and users have been killed since Duterte took office on June 30. Many of those killed in the initial months of the crackdown were poor drug suspects, and police said “high-value targets,” including mayors and drug lords, would be their next target in a new phase of the crackdown that was launched last week.
The unprecedented crackdown and killings have helped considerably ease crimes, but U.S. officials led by President Barack Obama and other western governments, along with human rights watchdogs, have been alarmed and called for an end to the killings. One human rights advocate has called the killings under Duterte a “human rights calamity.”
Duterte has lashed out at Obama and other critics, saying he was dealing with a pandemic that has afflicted politics, corrupted even generals and threatened to turn the country into what he describes as a “narco state” similar to some Latin American countries. – with reports from the Associated Press
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Tags: Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., Albuerra town Mayor Rolando Espinosa, Duterte, Espinosa, Philippine National Police, Philippine Police Are Now Just Death Squads, Police chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa, police kill another man during arrest effort, Samsudin Dimaukom