FOLLOWING the release of the Department of Justice (DOJ) resolution dismissing the drug charges filed against suspected drug lords Kerwin Espinosa and Peter Lim, opposition lawmakers called for the release of detained Senator Leila de Lima.
De Lima is currently detained at a detention facility in Camp Crame, Quezon City for alleged violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, with Espinosa as a key witness against her.
But Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the DOJ resolution has no impact on De Lima's case.
"The DOJ petition, as assured to the public, will not affect the case of Senator Leila de Lima. There are other witnesses who would testify against the lady senator," he said.
"De Lima's case is not included (in the charges against Lim and Espinosa). So there's a different basis on filing a case against De Lima, there's a different basis on the case(s) against Peter Lim (and Kerwin Espinosa)," he added.
Roque stressed that the senator's case is different, since the Supreme Court in October 2017 ruled that there was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 204 President Judge Juanita Guerrero in finding probable cause to order De Lima's arrest.
"It was already heard before the Supreme Court. There is a probable cause against Leila de Lima. But on the case(s) of (Lim and Espinosa), the DOJ said there's no probable cause," he said.
In the DOJ resolution penned by Assistant State Prosecutor Michael John Humarang and Aristotle Reyes, the latter said complainant Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Major Crimes Investigation Unit (PNP-CIDG-MCIU) failed to submit any object or illegal drugs that would prove that their is an existing conspiracy among the respondents Espinosa, Lim and several others to trade illegal drugs.
They also cited as a ground for the junking of the complaint, Marcelo Adorco's "unreliability" as a witness.
Adorco's affidavit wherein he disclosed his knowledge on the illegal drug transactions of his former boss and Lim was used as basis for the filing of the drug complaint against the latter.
Adorco was a former body guard of Espinosa.
Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat said the allegations against De Lima also lack evidence.
"Dapat noon pa pinalaya si Senator Leila cuz mahina naman talaga yung evidence against her," he said.
(Senator Leila should have been release because the evidence against her is weak.)
While the cases against Espinosa and Lim are separate from that of De Lima, Baguilat said that it’s worth noting that the testimonies of Espinosa who said he gave protection money to then DOJ Secretary De Lima was used to support the case against the senator.
Baguilat said the decision of the DOJ proves that the drug list of President Rodrigo Duterte is not accurate.
"Kerwin Espinosa and his father were in the President's drug list. For DOJ to say that there is insufficient evidence against Espinosa is to say that the President's list is inaccurate, unreliable and, therefore, useless for criminal prosecution," Baguilat said.
He further lamented: "Just imagine how many other innocents were forever damaged by that list including Senator Leila De Lima who was the central figure in the President’s drug list."
Baguilat said it is also noteworthy to point out that among those exonerated was Lim, earlier reported to be Duterte's friend.
"It belies the convoluted sense of justice of this administration in its overhyped drug war where the suspected drug lords escape prosecution while the suspected poor pushers are killed," Baguilat said.
Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin, for his part, said it is now clear that the case against the lady senator won't hold water.
"It is now clear that charges against Sen Leila De Lima won’t hold water given such admission by DoJ that they don’t have sufficient evidence against drug personalities they linked to her," Villarin said.
"Even the testimonies of convicted drug lords in NBP (New Bilibid Prison) against Sen. De Lima can’t be used in court as their words have no value in rules of evidence. It’s high time that she be released otherwise DoJ will just be clasping on straws when trial begins," he added.
The DOJ's resolution will be elevated to the office of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II for review. (SunStar Philippines)