A wanted drug criminal in the Philippines, who had fled to the UAE fearing President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war, has been brought back to Manila. He arrived in the city from Abu Dhabi on Friday, 18 November, morning amid tight security.

Rolando "Kerwin" Espinosa Jr, who has reportedly agreed to cooperate with the police in their anti-drug campaign, will be kept in isolation at the national police headquarters in Camp Crame.

Philippine National Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa told reporters while presenting the accused to the media that he was the "missing piece of the puzzle".

His father, Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr, was killed about two weeks ago in a police shootout while in custody in the Baybay Sub-provincial jail. The mayor and his son were among the first drug criminals named by the president.

Duterte had also issued a "shoot-to-kill" order for the father-son duo.

The younger Espinosa told reporters that he left the country on realising that Duterte was serious about his crackdown on narco traders and users. He added that he did not use any tricks to get out of the country, rather simply flew to Kuala Lumpur and then to Abu Dhabi using his own passport, The Philippines Star reported.

Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said they are looking to place him under the witness protection programme.

drug war
Philippine National Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa (R) points to Kerwin Espinosa jr (L), the alleged drug lord who was brought back from Abu Dhabi on Friday, 18 November Reuters