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Rodrigo Duterte

Philippine mayor’s drug kingpin son arrested overseas three months after gunbattle at family compound

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 October, 2016, 4:09pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 October, 2016, 5:36pm

A man named by Philippines’ president as a major drug kingpin has been arrested in the capital of the United Arab Emirates after apparently fleeing his country.

Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr. was arrested Sunday night in an apartment in Abu Dhabi, Ambassador Constancio Vingno Jr. said.

Abu Dhabi investigators used intelligence gathered by the Philippine National Police to locate Espinosa, Vingno said. He said that his country hopes to extradite Espinosa soon.

Filipino media quoted local police as saying an overseas Filipino worker tipped off authorities.

An Interpol red notice for Espinosa Jr, the son of a mayor also accused of being a drug kingpin, says he is wanted on drug and weapons charges.

It wasn’t clear if he had a lawyer. Vingno said Espinosa hadn’t requested consular assistance.

Espinosa and his father had been warned by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte they faced potentially being shot on sight if they didn’t turn themselves in.

The arrest comes three months after Philippine police commandos killed six bodyguards who worked for his father, Rolando Espinosa, outside his property in Albuera on Leyte island.

Rolando Espinosa had turned himself in to police a day earlier, while is son fled.

The arrest is part of Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs in his southeast Asian country that’s seen more than 1,300 suspects killed in gunbattles with police — an average of 36 killings a day since he took office on June 30. Human rights group criticise the campaign as condoning extrajudicial killings.

Vingno said it was unclear if anyone else would face charges over Espinosa hiding in the UAE. Emirati officials did not immediately comment on his arrest.

However, Vingno stressed that Espinosa’s arrest shouldn’t be taken as a stain on the reputation of the 600,000 Filipinos working across the UAE.

“It should not reflect on the people we are,” he said.