World Bulletin / News Desk
The mayor of Albuera town in the central province of Leyte, Rolando Espinosa Sr., was one of at least 23 mayors who Duterte has claimed are involved in the drug trade, or were protecting drug rings.
Chief Supt. Elmer Beltejar, Eastern Visayas police regional director, said Wednesday that the fatalities from the raids at the homes of Espinosa and his son Kerwin -- who was also included in the “shoot on sight” order -- included “hitmen” of the “Espinosa drug group”.
"Two of the assailants were killed near the mayor's house; two near the house of Kerwin Espinosa who is allegedly a drug lord; and the other two in the first house of the mayor," local media quoted him as saying.
After his surrender Tuesday, the elder Espinosa was placed under the custody of Philippine National Police Chief Director General Rolando "Bato" de la Rosa, who said that Espinosa’s son is reportedly abroad, either in Singapore or Malaysia.
Duterte’s shoot on sight order Monday followed the arrest of two of Espinosa’s bodyguards and three of his employees during a drug bust July 28 near his and his son's houses.
Police recovered at least P1.9 million ($40,390) worth of suspected meth during the operation.
Police have tagged Kerwin as a drug trader who receives his meth supply from a jailed Chinese drug lord, and his father as his coddler and protector.
GMA News cited a police report as saying that charges may be pressed against Espinosa following the discovery of a private armed group on his properties – where 14 assorted assault rifles, five caliber .45 pistols and rifle grenades were recovered.
Police were pursuing four other suspects and surrounded a suspected safehouse in the village of Benolho.
Duterte said that prior to taking his presidential oath in June, he had received reports that at least 35 mayors from across the archipelago were involved in the trade in illegal drugs.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno later said the figure was revised to 23 as the president continues validating the list, Philstar reported.
According to figures from the Philippine Daily Inquirer's "Kill List" -- which keeps track of drug suspects killed nationwide -- 465 have been killed from June 30 -- Duterte's first day of office -- to Aug. 1