Saturday July 21, 2018

DOJ chief: Kerwin Espinosa could turn key witness vs Peter Lim

JUSTICE Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Wednesday that self-confessed Visayas drug trader Rolan "Kerwin" Espinosa could turn as a key witness against Cebuano businessman and alleged drug lord Peter Lim.

Aguirre said there's a possibility that Espinosa could be allowed to be state witness against Lim once the complaints filed against him and the latter over their alleged involvement in illegal drugs have been elevated to the court.

Last November, the Department of Justice placed Espinosa in its Witness Protection Program's (WPP) provisional coverage after he implicated Senator Leila de Lima in a legislative inquiry in the Senate.

A provisional coverage of the WPP could be given to an individual who is a material witness in a major case. Individuals under the program are entitled to receive protection, food, and allowance from the government.

Espinosa, however, was Lim's co-respondent in the same complaint filed before the DOJ by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) Central Visayas.

Authorities, through an affidavit filed by Espinosa's alleged former employee Marcelo Adorco, recently filed complaints against Lim, Espinosa and six others over their alleged violation of Section 26 (b) (conspiracy) in relation to Section 5 (sale) of the RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Also placed in the charge sheet were Adorco, Lovely Impal, Peter Co, Max Miro, Ruel Malindangan and Jun Pepito.

Aguirre said Espinosa could be discharged as a state witness, before or during the trial of the cases, depending on the court's discretion.

"He could be immediately discharged before the actual trial or pwede naman during trial," Aguirre said.

For now, the Justice chief said he will let the panel of prosecutors decide if it will charge Espinosa before the court after its preliminary investigation on August 14.

"I don't want to go and state my definite decision on this because I might be the one to be called to make the final judgment," Aguirre said.

All the above-named individuals are facing charges for allegedly conspiring to deliver drugs in Bohol, Samar, Northern and Southern Leyte, Biliran and Cebu.

The illegal drugs being distributed in the said areas were from drug distributors Lim, Impal and Co, said the PNP-CIDG. (SunStar Philippines)