Kerwin Espinosa, co-accused acquitted of another drug case

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

SELF-CONFESSED drug lord Kerwin Espinosa and co-accused Marcelo Adorco were acquitted of a drug case filed against them in 2018.

The Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 65 granted the demurrer to evidence filed by Espinosa and Adorco after the prosecution failed to present sufficient evidence.

“Wherefore, in view of the foregoing, the Demurrer to Evidence filed by both accused are hereby granted. Accordingly, Rolan E. Espinosa and Marcelo L. Adorco are hereby acquitted of the offense charged on reasonable doubt,” stated the 21-page resolution signed by Presiding Judge Veronica Tongio-Igot on June 6, 2023.

The court then ordered the release from detention of Espinosa and Adorco “unless they are confined for any other unlawful cause.”

This is Espinosa's second acquittal after the illegal drug trafficking charges filed against him in 2021 was also dropped by the Makati City RTC Branch 64 due to lack of evidence.

Espinosa and Adorco, along with Peter Lim and Ruel Malingdangan, were accused of “trading or trafficking” 20 kilograms of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) in Makati City on June 7, 2015. This transaction came two years after the accused traded 30 kilos of shabu on February 16, 2013.

They were charged with violation of Section 26 (b), in relation to Section 5, article II of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, which penalizes conspiracy or attempt to commit the “sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution, and transportation” of illegal drugs.

Lim and Malindangan have remained at large.

Espinosa and Adorco pleaded not guilty to the drug charge during their arraignment in August 2018. They then filed demurrer to evidence in March and April this year.

A demurrer to evidence is a motion to dismiss on the ground of insufficiency of evidence where a defendant cites that the evidence produced by the prosecution is insufficient, whether true or not, to make out a case.

In his demurrer to evidence, Espinosa said the case should be dismissed as the sworn statement of Adorco, who was initially presented as a state witness but was discharged as such in July 2022, are “inadmissible” and “hearsay” for “failure to comply with the rights of the accused under custodial investigation” and “not having been confirmed before the court.”

In the ruling, the court stated that “the prosecution failed to prove the existence of the elements of conspiracy to commit illegal trading of dangerous drugs under Section 26 (b), in relation to Section 5 of RA 9165, as amended by RA 10640.”

“The testimonies of the prosecution witnesses on the commission of the alleged conspiracy to commit illegal trading of dangerous drugs have no probative value for being hearsay,” the court added.

It considered “hearsay” the witnesses’ testimonies because their “knowledge on the illegal trading purportedly committed by the accused was limited to the matters relayed to them by accused Adorco.”

“It is an immemorial rule that a witness can testify only as to his own personal perception or knowledge of the actual facts or events. His testimony cannot be proof as to the truth of what he learned or heard from others,” it added.

Espinosa and Adorco were previously acquitted in another drug case after Adorco executed a counter-affidavit in August 2020 recanting his claims against Espinosa.

In his counter-affidavit submitted to the Department of Justice on May 24, 2022, Adorco said he was forced, due to fear for his life, to issue an affidavit implicating Espinosa and other individuals in the illegal drug trade.

He was referring to the affidavit he issued on August 2016 and June 2017 where he said that Espinosa and his father, late Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa, were involved in illegal drug operation in Bohol, Samar, northern Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran and parts of Cebu in connivance with alleged drug lord Peter Lim and convicted drug lord Peter Co.

In a supplemental affidavit, Adorco said that Lovely Impal, whom he said was the younger Espinosa’s secret lover that time, is their link to Peter Co, who continued his drug operations while detained at the New Bilibid Prison.

In 2022, Espinosa retracted all his accusations against detained former senator Leila de Lima, saying they were all made-up stories he was forced to invent due to pressure from policemen.

Espinosa earlier claimed that De Lima accepted millions worth of drug money from him to fund her senatorial race during her stint as the secretary of justice.

Espinosa was arrested in Abu Dhabi in October 2016. He will remain in detention, though, as he is still facing other drug charges in different courts. (LMY)


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