Suspect in Espinosa Slay Surrenders After Eight Days in Hiding


LEGAZPI CITY, June 30 (PNA) -- The sudden surrender of Florencio "Jun" Fernandez, the convicted killer of former Congressman Moises Espinosa, Sr., caught law enforcement authorities by surprise as they were still on heightened manhunt operation in Masbate.

Sketchy reports said the convict, after eight days in hiding since he bolted jail in Masbate on June 22, surrendered to lawyer Rainer Butalid, a former Vice Governor of Masbate and one Police Chief Supt. Lasaris from Camp Crame at around 8:45 a.m. Tuesday at undisclosed hideout in Masbate City.

Fernandez after the surrender was swiftly taken to this city by a government helicopter and reportedly flown to Manila by a Philippine Air Force (PAF) plane for temporary custody of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Report said the convict would be presented to the media before transferring him to a detention cell.

Chief Inspector Ayn Natuel, PNP Bicol spokesperson, said police officials that were closely checking the whereabouts of Fernandez, were caught by surprised of the fugitive's hasty surrender.

Natuel said there was no coordination made by higher authorities about the convicts surrender.

Fernandez, 56, was convicted of masterminding the killing of former Masbate Congressman Moises Espinosa in March 1989.

Jail insider said Fernandez enjoyed special privileges during his incarceration at the Masbate Provincial Jail such as taking home visits. Fernandez's residence is half kilometer from the MJP.

Masbate Regional Trial Court, Branch 141, meted Fernandez, a former vice mayor of Masbate and a brother of slain Representative Jolly Fernandez, a political rival of the Espinosa's, four counts of life imprisonment on June 26, 2006.

Court records indicate that murder charges for the killing of the elder Espinosa were filed against Fernandez, former Masbate mayor Susana Lim and former Governor and now Congressman Antonio Kho. The charges against Lim and Kho were dismissed by the court.

Cong. Espinosa was gunned down at the tarmac of the Masbate airport last March 1989; Fernandez was tagged as the mastermind of the killing together with three others.

Former Batasan Pambansa Representative Jolly Fernandez was shot dead in October 1991 by assassins reportedly from the Espinosa camp. The Jolly Fernandez case is still unsolved.

Meanwhile at the Espinosa camp, Maloli and Mario Espinosa claimed that the incident might be orchestrated to release Fernandez since they were asking the Appellate Court to transfer Fernandez to the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City to serve the life sentenced imposed on him by the court.

The Espinosa's were saddened by the laxity in the treatment of jail inmates, specially questioning the standard operating procedure practiced at the MJP.

They claimed that the MJP had the notoriety of releasing inmates charged of committing high crimes to serve as private armies of political personalities. (PNA)

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