Alleged brains in vice mayor’s killing nabbed after 11 years

By: Jennifer P. Rendon 

THE alleged mastermind behind the killing of a vice mayor of an Iloilo town 11 years ago was arrested shortly after his plane landed at the Iloilo International Airport.

Vicente Espinosa had just arrived from Manila on board a Cebu Pacific plane around 1:50 p.m. of Aug. 9, 2017 when policemen nabbed him.

Operatives of the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO) Provincial Intelligence Branch (PIB), IPPO Provincial Special Group, and Cabatuan Police Station served a warrant of arrest to Espinosa for murder.

Iloilo Regional Trial Court Judge Ma Yolanda Panguiton-Gaviño issued the warrant on Aug. 6, 2019.

Police Major Jonathan Pinuela, IPPO-PIB/PSOG chief, declined to reveal the names of Espinosa’s co-accused in the arrest warrant.

Pinuela said Espinosa did not flinch when they arrested him.

“He said he foresaw that possibility,” Pinuela said.

Espinosa is charged for the 11-year-old murder of former Ajuy vice mayor Ramon Rojas Jr. on May 22, 2008, a day before his birthday.

The suspect denied he was in hiding in the last 11 years.

Pinuela said he was not aware how the case went but they only got a copy of the arrest warrant a few days ago.

Espinosa is the father of incumbent Iloilo Provincial Board Member Carol-V Espinosa, a lawyer by profession.

Espinosa and Rojas are cousins.

Two motorcycle-riding men gunned down Rojas who was having his usual early morning walk in Ajuy with Punong Barangay Armando Nacional. Nacional was unscathed.

Police had claimed that eight witnesses tagged Espinosa as the mastermind of Rojas’ murder.

A witness claimed to have heard Espinosa talking to Lindsay Buenavista, Edgar Cordero, and Dennis Cartagena at Barangay Sto. Rosario about the plan to kill Rojas.

Cordero and Cartagena were named as principal suspects in the killing of Rojas.

Another witness claimed to have heard Espinosa talking the assassination plot and the P200,000 reward to the gunmen.

Ajuy Mayor Jett Rojas, who was at that time a board member, also believed that Espinosa is behind the killing of his cousin.

He believed that politics had something to with the killing as they don’t have personal conflicts with Espinosa.

In the 2007 elections, Espinosa’s brother Ramon lost to then mayor Juancho Alvarez whose running mate was Ramon Rojas.

After the killing, another witness alleged that Alvarez was supposed to be the next target.

The witness said that Espinosa offered him money to kill Alvarez but he declined.