MANILA- Alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa has asked to be placed under the Witness Protection Program (WPP) as he fears for his and his family's safety, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said on Thursday.
Aguirre said a letter from the Philippine Ambassador in Abu Dhabi Constancio Vingno Jr., said the young Espinosa wants to be placed under protective custody. He also informed his arresting officer about his request.
If he is accepted into the government's WPP, relatives of Espinosa up to the second degree of consanguinity will also be placed under protective custody, Aguirre said.
Vingno, in a phone interview on ANC's "Top Story," said Kerwin does not want to leave his common-law wife and three children in Abu Dhabi and wants to have them under protective custody as well.
The Philippine envoy added that Kerwin, who expressed his interest to be a state witness, requested to have his common-law wife's phone number registered to authorities so they can communicate since she is currently barred from making calls to Kerwin.
There are also no cases against Kerwin at Abu Dhabi, according to Vingno.
“Even before Kerwin requested to be put under the Witness Protection Program or if he needs protection, we have already determined that he should be given full protection of the law considering what happened to his father,” he said.
The Justice secretary, however, clarified that they still have to assess whether Espinosa can be placed under the WPP.
Kerwin was nabbed by Abu Dhabi law enforcers and Filipino anti-narcotics policemen last October 17.
His father, Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., was killed in his jail cell at the Baybay sub-provincial jail in Leyte.
Three police officers are scheduled to leave for Abu Dhabi to fetch Kerwin who is currently under the custody of the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
Upon his return, Kerwin will initially be placed under the custody of the Philippine National Police.
The National Bureau of Investigation has been ordered by Aguirre to conduct a parallel investigation into the death of the older Espinosa to avoid any possible whitewash.
“We do not want to conclude anything we just want to find facts. I don’t want to preempt or make any speculation about this,” Aguirre said.