Monday July 23, 2018

Kerwin Espinosa asks DOJ to dismiss drug raps

MANILA. Self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa. (SunStar file photo)

MANILA -- Self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to dismiss the drug complaint filed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) against him.

During Tuesday’s (May 15) preliminary investigation, only Espinosa was able to appear and submit his counter-affidavit.

In his nine-page counter-affidavit, Espinosa said the PNP has no evidence that he has drugs in his possession, as he asked what penalty will be imposed on him since under Republic Act 9165, penalties are based on the quantity of drugs found in his possession.

“Since the government could not prove that I ever had shabu in my possession, what would be the penalty that could be imposed on me?” Espinosa said in his counter affidavit.

Espinosa also pointed out that the CIDG failed to present the “corpus delicti” of the alleged offense, meaning, no drugs were presented to the DOJ panel of prosecutors as part of the evidence against him.

This defense was given weight by the first panel that junked the complaint, along with the finding that respondent-witness Marcelo Adorco’s sworn statements against the other respondents were laden with inconsistencies.

“Where is the corpus delicti? Surely, this honorable panel would understand how vital the corpus delicti is for purposes of determining the existence of probable cause?” read Espinosa’s sworn statement.

Aside from his testimony before both Houses of Congress, the police, through the Office of the Solicitor General, also presented 37 checks issued to various females allegedly protecting him and his "drug business."

“In the ordinary course of human behavior, nobody but nobody would issue checks for an illegal transaction such as ‘protection in the illegal drug business’; everything would be in cash to avoid a paper trail,” he said.

During the Senate hearing, he admitted to being a drug distributor in Visayas. A complaint has been filed with the DOJ but was dismissed for lack of evidence. A new panel was created by then Justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to conduct a reinvestigation.

The PNP has submitted additional evidence including the record of the Senate and House of Representatives’ hearing.

“The CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group) attached to their Manifestation a number of pages comprising the transcripts of the hearings of the Philippine Senate in the latter’s investigation into the suspicious death of [his father] Mayor Rolando Espinosa,” Espinosa added.

“My statements are a matter of record. However, the complainant must be sniffing something stronger than shabu to think that such ‘admissions’ are sufficient for this Honorable Panel to hold that probable cause exists to indict me for violation of Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002),” Espinosa said.

Under the complaint, Espinosa, Cebu-based businessman and alleged drug lord Peter Lim and their co-respondents are accused of violating Section 26 (b) in relation to Section 5 (Sale, Trading, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Distribution and Transportation of Dangerous Drugs and/or Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals) of Republic Act 9165, also known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

The PNP based its complaint on the sworn statements issued by Adorco who was arrested on July 8, 2016 during a drug bust operation in Albuera, Leyte.

Apart from Lim, Espinosa and Adorco, named respondents include convicted drug lord Peter Co, alleged drug supplier Lovely Impal, Max Miro, Ruel Malindangan, Noel “Jun” Pepito, and 11 others only known by their aliases “Amang, Ricky, Warren, Tupie, Jojo, Jaime, Yawa, Lapi, Royroy, Marlon, and Bay.”

Lim’s co-accused, Miro and Pepito, died in separate incidents.

Meanwhile, Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, who heads the panel of prosecutors conducting the preliminary investigation of the complaint, gave Lim and other respondents until May 30 to respond to the drug complaint filed by the PNP against them.

During the hearing on May 15, Lim and his co-respondents were supposed to file their counter-affidavits but Lim’s legal counsel, lawyer Magilyn Loha, told the panel that his client failed to appear and could not submit his counter-affidavit due to threats to his life.

Loha cited that last March 24, Lim’s brother, Wellington, got ambushed but survived.

“We could not risk that he (be) brought here because of the threat,” Loha told the panel.

Impal and Co also failed to attend the hearing because they are both in prison: Impal in the Iligan City Jail, and Co at the New Bilibid Prison.

The DOJ panel of prosecutors is set to issue an order for the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and Bureau of Corrections to present the two during the next hearing on May 30. (PNA)