Sun.Star Pampanga - - NA­TION! -

war­rant op­er­a­tion 23-2017 is­sued on Fe­bru­ary 7, 2017 by Judge Ana Marie JosonViterbo of RTC Branch 24 (Ca­banat­uan, Nueva Ecija) against the for­mer mayor for al­leged il­le­gal pos­ses­sion of firearms and nar­cotics.

Espino and Ca­cu­tud vil­lage chair­man Rosendo Dizon, along with Romy Mal­lari, Ce­sar Per­alta and Rosauro Dillera, who are al­leged mem­bers of a pri­vate armed group iden­ti­fied as Espino Crim­i­nal Gang al­legedly op­er­ated by the for­mer mayor, were ar­rested af­ter re­sist­ing ar­rest and en­gag­ing op­er­a­tives in a shootout which lasted for about an hour.

Seized from the sus­pects’pos­ses­sion were an M16 as­sault ri­fle, three cal­i­bre .45 pis­tols, a 9mm cal­i­bre pis­tol, three hand grenades, two ri­fle grenades, am­mu­ni­tions for dif­fer­ent kinds of firearms and six packs of sus­pected shabu .

How­ever, the for­mer mayor as­serted that he does not and never op­er­ated a pri­vate armed group or a gun-for-hire group con­trary to the claims of the law en­force­ment of­fi­cers.

He nar­rated that he was still sleep­ing when the armed per­son­nel barged in­side his house and did not know that they were serv­ing a search war­rant which trig­gered him to take a gun­shot at them.

He stressed that Mal­lari and Dillera, whom po­lice claimed as mem­bers of his pri­vate armed group, are care­tak­ers of his fight­ing cock farm be­hind his house.

Espino re­puted the po­lice re­port stat­ing that var­i­ous firearms and ex­plo­sives were seized in his pos­ses­sion and al­leged that “they were planted by the raid­ing team”.

He as­serted that he only owns two li­censed firearms, which he used in tak­ing a gun­shot, and never owned or used hand grenades.

The for­mer mayor in­sisted that he never sold or used il­le­gal drugs and urged the po­lice­men to do a drug test on him to prove his cl ai m .

He also al­leged that the po­lice op­er­a­tion con­ducted against him is “purely po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated and or­ches­trated to mar his rep­u­ta­tion”.

Espino, to­gether with the three other sus­pects are now de­tained at the Pam­panga Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tion and De­tec­tion Unit field of­fice in An­ge­les City for fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Espino is a three-term mayor of Arayat town from 2001 to 2010. He ran again dur­ing the 2016 elec­tions but bowed to in­cum­bent Mayor Em­manuel “Bon” Ale­jan­drino.

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