It’s the second killing of a Philippine politician linked to illegal drugs in a week.
Rolando Espinosa Sr., the Albuera Township mayor who was accused by President Rodrigo Duterte as part of his crackdown on illegal drugs, was killed by police early Saturday in what they’re describing as a shootout in the Baybay jail, according to reports from the Associated Press and the BBC.
Police raided the jail in search of firearms and illicit drugs when they say Espinosa fired shots, reports said. They fatally shot him and his fellow inmate in the jail cell.
Martin Andanar, press communication office secretary, told the Philippine Star, called Espinosa’s death a huge loss to the government.
“I’m puzzled and at the same time, I am also sad that this happened because Mayor Espinosa is a big help to (the) investigation of our government to pin down those involved in illegal drugs,” he said.
Some officials called for an investigation of Espinosa’s death, including how Espinosa and the other inmate got access to firearms and what led to the purported gunfight.
“Offhand, I can smell extrajudicial killing,” Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former national police chief, told the Associated Press.
The killings come days after another mayor, Samsudin Dimaukom, and nine of his men allegedly died in a gun battle in the southern province of Cotabato, according to the Star. Two of those killed were security guards Dimaukom hired after Duterte accused him of drug links and took away his police and military escorts.
Duterte publicly accused 160 politicians, including Espinosa and Dimaukom, of drug links as part of his crackdown, which has been criticized for extrajudicial killings. A new stage of the crackdown was announced last week to include mayors and top drug lords, BBC reported. BBC’s estimates the death toll is up to 4,000.
Espinosa surrendered to the national police chief in August in a nationally televised event, and he was later released. He was arrested again in October, following an indictment on drug and illegal possession of firearm charges
Espinosa’s son, an alleged drug lord, was arrested in the United Arab Emirates’capital city of Abu Dhabi last month.