A Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Eastern Visayas official identified actor-turned-politician Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez as among those involved in the “drug group” of the Espinosas.
Gomez’s name, along with other local government officials in Leyte, cropped up when Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III asked Chief Insp. Leo Laraga of CIDG Region 8 to explain why they had to apply for the search warrants against Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa in Basey, Samar.
Laraga explained that they had to secure search warrants in Samar because most of the courts in Leyte province were controlled by local politicians and police officials there.
Initially, Laraga refused to name the officials but Sotto insisted as the inquiry is being done in aid of legislation.
“Sino sino ‘yung mga iniiwasan sa Leyte? Para maintindihan anong compelling reason para kumuha ng search warrant sa Samar?” Sotto asked Laraga.
“OK, your honor. Allegedly ‘yung vice mayor ng Baybay City, governor ng Leyte, mayor ng Ormoc City and congressman of third district of Leyte so all of those courts that can be applied ay under po nung mga politicians,” Laraga said.
(Who are those who you watch out for in Leyte? So we can understand the compelling reason behind the application for a search warrant in Samar?
OK, your honor. Allegedly, the vice mayor of Baybay City, governor of Leyte, mayor of Ormoc City and the congressman of the third district of Leyte, so all the courts under those politicians.)
He then named the following officials as Baybay Vice Mayor Mike Cari, Leyte Rep. Vicente “Ching” Veloso, a former appellate justice, Leyte Governor Leopoldo Petilla, and Ormoc City Mayor and actor Richard Gomez.
Alex Avisado, the lawyer of Gomez, issued a statement moments after his name was mentioned in the hearing. Avisado denied the alleged links of Gomez, as well as his wife Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez, to illegal drugs.
“Mayor Richard Gomez, Cong. Lucy Torres-Gomez and (Leyte Provincial) Board Member Matt Torres have always been against drugs. They are advocates of a clean, active and healthy lifestyle. They have not and will never get involved in drugs,” Avisado said.
Avisado also warned individuals who are “desperately trying to destroy their reputation” to “put up or shut up.”
“They were resoundingly elected by the people of Ormoc and the 4th District of Leyte based on their solid anti-drug campaign. So to those who are desperately trying to destroy their reputation you have been warned! Put up or shut up! We will see you in court!” he said.
Veloso has denied his alleged ties with the Espinosas.
“Based on your information, are they involved in the Espinosa drug group?” Sotto asked. Laraga said, “It was the statement of the late Mayor Espinosa himself.”
Senator Miguel Zubiri then raised his concern on Gomez’s alleged involvement in the drug group.
Zubiri said he has not seen in any reports on social media that the actor has ties with Mayor Espinosa and his son Kerwin, tagged as the biggest drug lord in Eastern Visayas.
“Hindi ko naririnig pangalan ni Mayor Richard Gomez ever in any social media circle. Dapat ma-klaro ‘yan sir kasi mahirap naman ito. This is aired live. Ayaw naman natin masira pangalan niya,” the senator said.
(I have not heard of Mayor Richard Gomez’s name ever in any social media circle. That must be clarified. This is aired live. We don’t want to taint his name.)
Laraga explained that the CIDG does not have a copy of Espinosa’s affidavit but he said he remembers Albuera Police head Chief Insp. Jovie Espinido mention the name of Gomez and other officials during a case conference.
“I also heard it personally from Major Espinido during the case conference sa Bulwagan. Sinabi niya personally ‘yung mga pangalan na sinabi ko na binanggit ni Mayor Espinosa (He personally mentioned the names I just said as stated by Mayor Espinosa),” Laraga said. CDG