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Philippine mayor accused of drug crimes shot dead

By
Amy R. Connolly
Rolando Espinosa, mayor of Albuera Township, was linked by President Rodrigo Duterte to illegal drug trading. He was shot dead in his cell on Nov. 5, 2016 during a 'firefight' in the Sub-Provincial Jail in Baybay, Leyte Province, during a search for illegal firearms. Espinosa surrendered to the national police in October 2016 saying he feared for his life following a shoot on sight order issued by Duterte if resisting arrest. Photo by Robert Dejon/EPA
Rolando Espinosa, mayor of Albuera Township, was linked by President Rodrigo Duterte to illegal drug trading. He was shot dead in his cell on Nov. 5, 2016 during a 'firefight' in the Sub-Provincial Jail in Baybay, Leyte Province, during a search for illegal firearms. Espinosa surrendered to the national police in October 2016 saying he feared for his life following a "shoot on sight" order issued by Duterte if resisting arrest. Photo by Robert Dejon/EPA

MANILA, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Philippine law enforcement shot dead a jailed mayor who had been accused by President Rodrigo Duterte of drug crimes, officials said.

Rolando Espinosa Sr., the mayor of Albuera in the central Philippines, had been arrested in October, weeks after Duterte named him as a part of a list of officials involved in drug trade. Espinosa, who said he is innocent, is the second elected official on the list who has been killed in about a week.

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Police said the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group was trying to servea search warrant to Espinosa early Saturday while he was inside his jail cell when he and his cellmate resisted arrest. Espinosa and his cellmate, Raul Yap, were killed, officials said. Police said the recovered at least two loaded guns during the operation.

Sen. Richard Gordon, head of the Senate committee on justice, said "it appears that even those who are in custody of the law are no longer safe."

Some 3,600 people have been killed by police or vigilante groups since Duterte took office in June on the platform of eradicating drug use and sales in the country. Duterte said he has complied a list of thousands of local officials and police officers involved in the drug trade.

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In late October, Samsudin Dimaukom, mayor of Datu Saudi-Ampatuan, died in a gunfight between police and his guards in what was called an anti-drug operation. Dimaukom was among the names believed to be on Duterte's list.

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