A POLICE official linked the recently arrested alleged drug lord Rolan “Kerwin” Espinosa with a Cebuano businessman, calling them partners in the illegal drug trade in Eastern Visayas.
Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido said that a witness executed an affidavit naming Peter Lim as the supplier of shabu to the son of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.
The witness, a driver, supposedly identified Lim when the latter was shown on television during a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Ilang natudlo na (The driver pointed to him),” said Espenido, the Albuera police chief. The driver claimed he had accompanied Kerwin when they met with the businessman in Thailand and Hong Kong.
In a separate interview, Lim said that if Espinosa did meet with a Peter Lim in Thailand, then he believes that would finally clear his name.
Lim urged government authorities to check the dates of that supposed trip on Espinosa’s passport and check as well with the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
“That can easily be checked,” Lim said.
“That’s a good development. I’m happy for that. That will establish the identity of the real Peter Lim, granting the driver and the police are not making up stories,” Lim said.
When asked to comment on the statement of the Albuera, Leyte police chief that he was the Peter Lim who went to see President Duterte in Davao City last July 2016, Lim said he will consult his lawyers on whether he should file a case against the police officer.
“Did they know me? I don’t know them from Adam because we never met,” said Lim. He added that a police officer ought to seek the truth rather than rely on an unverified affidavit.
The police just need to check the travel documents, he explained.
“Look at the date when they allegedly met. Look at Kerwin’s passport and my passport. As simple as that,” Lim said.
For his part, Espenido said that Kerwin and his group were confident because they knew they were protected by police and government officials.
Kerwin lived in the apartment allegedly owned by Lim, he said.
When the group returned to the Philippines, they allegedly struck a deal with suspected drug lord Peter Co in a hospital.
In his first week at work last July, President Duterte had tagged “Peter Lim” alias “Jaguar” as one of the alleged drug lords operating under the protection of a top police official.
Lim denied the allegation and spoke with the President in Davao City to clear his name. He also pledged to cooperate with authorities in an investigation.
Ronda Vice Mayor Jonnah John Ungab is not just a lawyer of the Espinosas, but is also receiving monthly payola, another witness told the police.
“Mag-base man god atong investigator sa statement sa testimony sa witness. Karon ang witness miingon, ‘Kanang, Sir, giapil man na siya namo,’ (The witness said, ‘Sir, we included him),” said Espenido.
Ungab denied any involvement in the alleged illegal drug trade of his clients, saying his relationship with them is “purely professional and legal.”
He handled Kerwin’s case when the latter appealed his conviction in an illegal drugs case in 2008. The trial court’s decision was later reversed and Kerwin was acquitted in 2009.
Espenido said that penalties must be tougher against government officials who tolerate the illegal drug trade, adding that Kerwin’s protectors made the latter a big player in the narcotics business. Some received P80,000 per week while others got P250,000 per month.
“Kon akong ingnon mamatay si Kerwin, puede kahimo ang mga protector og laing Kerwin (If Kerwin dies, the protectors can replace him),” Espenido told radio dySS yesterday.
Authorities caught Kerwin in Abu Dhabi last Monday dawn, after an overseas worker informed them about his presence in a building.
Mayor Espinosa is currently behind bars, after he was arrested for cases of illegal possession of dangerous drugs and illegal possession of firearms.
The names of the Espinosas’ alleged protectors are listed in a “blue book.”
When asked why the police did not file charges against all the public officials who allegedly accepted protection money, Espenido said they are still gathering “concrete” evidence like money transfer receipts or bank deposit slips.
Espenido further said that the police included the names of the officials in the affidavit because there might be witnesses who can corroborate the accusations.
Mayor Espinosa identified, aside from police officials, some governors, vice governors, mayors, barangay captains and other government officials who allegedly accepted payola from his son.
Espenido said the names of the alleged protectors should be divulged so the public would know.
He admitted high-ranking public officials are hard to pin down because they have lieutenants who collect the money for them.
If these officials will not be dragged in court, Espenido said: “Ang Ginoo na ug ang mga tawo ang maghusga (Let God and the people judge them).”
He said he had recorded the list of drug protectors in a digital file.
Police filed 14 criminal complaints against the Espinosas before the prosecutor’s office, four of which were already brought to court for trial. Arrest warrants were issued against them.
Most of the cases involve illegal drugs and illegal possession of firearms.