Witness: No shootout, Albuera Mayor Espinosa murdered

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Baybay City, Leyte (CNN Philippines) — Detainees at the Leyte Sub-Provincial Jail in Baybay City said on Monday they saw what happened in the wee hours of Saturday morning when police officers shot dead Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa and another inmate, Raul Yap inside their cells.

Read: Albuera Mayor Espinosa, 1 other inmate killed in jail cell shootout – CIDG

They said members of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) in Region 8 swooped down on the Baybay City prison to serve search warrants.

There were about 40 detainees in the jail.  Espinosa was alone in cell number one.

At the other end of the hall, inmate Raul Yap shared cell number 7 with several others.

"May dala silang cutter. Laking cutter tapos nakita nilang may CCTV bumalik sila. Pag balik nila, wala nang ilaw ang CCTV. Pumasok sila tapos patay na ang ilaw," said a witness who covered his face with a scarf to hide his identity.

[Translation: They brought a big cutter with them. When they saw a CCTV camera, they left. When they returned, there was no more light for the camera. They went inside with the light turned off.]

He said seven men went to the inner portion of the jail house where the prison cells are: two went straight to cell number 7, three stayed in the middle of the hall, and two others headed to Espinosa's cell.

All detainees were ordered to drop to the floor on their stomachs.  "Dito kami nakadapa lahat. Pinagdadapa kami," pointing to the floor of his cell.

[Translation: They ordered us face down on the floor.]

"Pinagsasabihan nga kami na pag nagsalita kami, pagbabalikan kaming lahat. Babarilin kami." (Translation: They said if we say anything about this, they will return and shoot us.)

The witness then said  two CIDG operatives, who were wearing police uniforms without nameplates, barged into Espinosa's cell.

The Mayor, according to the witness, even greeted the policemen, "Good evening."

And the police greeted back.

"Sabi ni mayor, huwag nyo akong lagyan sir dahil wala akong ganyan. Wag nyo akong planter-an," the witness recalled.

[Translation: The mayor said, don't plant anything (evidence) on me because I don't have those items.]

The detainee said Espinosa even asked the operatives if he could use the toilet, but gunshots were heard a few minutes after.

"Sabi ni Mayor, punta muna ako ng CR sir. Sabi ng mama, wag ka na pumunta. Yun na putok na. Binaril na si Mayor. Hindi na nakapagsalita," the detainee said.

[Translation: The Mayor asked if he could use the CR (toilet). He was told not to go anymore. That was when shots rang. The Mayor was shot, without anything else to say.]

They heard gunshots almost simultaneously at cells number one and seven.

The next thing they knew, both Espinosa and Yap were bathing in their own blood.

"Sinabi nila na may baril si Mayor, walang baril yun. Alam namin dahil mahigpit kasi yung searching nila dito... Wala, walang lumaban," the male witness said.

[Translation: They said the Mayor had a gun, but he didn't have one. We know that because their searches here are thorough. No one fought back.]

The PNP said some detainees are willing to testify in court about what they witnessed.

There are CCTV cameras in the facility, but footage of the incident has disappeared.