CIDG chief to use subpoena powers to bolster case vs Espinosa, Lim

UNDAUNTED by the dismissal of the drug charges against suspected drug lords Kerwin Espinosa and Peter Lim, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief said Wednesday, March 14, that he might use his subpoena powers for the first time to bolster their case.

CIDG Director Roel Obusan said they were also considering the inclusion of Espinosa’s admission before a Senate inquiry that he was involved in illegal drugs operations in Eastern Visayas together with convicted drug lord Peter Co and Lim, a Cebu businessman.

“Pwede na namin ilagay para idiin pa ng konti (We can include that to pin them down),” Obusan said in reaction to the observation made by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II that the case against Espinosa, Lim and others was weak.

Obusan on Wedneday questioned the “sweeping dismissal” of the case and vowed to exhaust all legal remedies to pursue it. The CIDG appealed the DOJ decision in February 2018.

“Bakit sweeping ‘yung pagka dismiss ng lahat. ‘Yung kay Kerwin Espinosa hindi ba papasok samantalang si Kerwin Espinosa bodyguard n’ya mismo ang nagsasalita na nag-uutos sa kanya,” said Obusan.

(It was a sweeping dismissal of the cases. Why? Kerwin Espinosa' bodyguard himself said that he gets his instructions from Kerwin.)

“That is impossible kasi you have to treat every act of the crime according to the person and the transaction committed. It is individual and distinct from one another. Hindi dapat pagsamasamhin ng isa. Maliwanag naman siguro it is accepted na driver bodyguard nya (si Marcelo Adorco). Hindi naman dineny ni Kerwin ‘yun during the preliminary investigation," he added.

(It is clear that Adorco was his driver-bodyguard. Kerwin did not deny this during the preliminary investigation.)

But Obusan said he was not in the least disappointed.

He said there is a possibility that he will use his subpoena powers for the first time to collate and gather more evidence, which will be included in their supplemental affidavit to support the motion for reconsideration that they filed.

“As long as we can again search for new evidence we can file a case kasi a case is a case and if there need be na gamitin ko ‘yung subpoena powers after na pwede ko na i-apply (if there is a need to use my subpoena powers), why not,” said Obusan.

“Hindi ko kasi nakikita na madi-dismiss itong case na ito. Kapag madi-dismiss ito ay mag-subpoena ako. We will work hard again. We will use all available tools in the investigation and one of that available tool is the subpoena power and definitely I will use that so as to have justice,” he added.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) dismissed in December 2017 the drug charges filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Major Crimes Investigation Unit (MICU) against Espinosa, Lim, Peter Co, Adorco, Max Miro, Lovely Impal and at least 15 others including their alleged accomplices.

In its complaint before the DOJ in 2016, based on the affidavits issued by lone witness Adorco, the CIDG-MICU said the respondents conspired in the sale, trading and proliferation of illegal drugs particularly in Eastern Visayas.

However, the DOJ resolution said Adorco’s testimonies were "rife with inconsistencies and contradictions, and run against the standards of human experience and the logical course of reality."

The CIDG asked the DOJ in February to reconsider the decision.

Aguirre has urged the CIDG to include Espinosa’s statement during his appearance before the Senate inquiry.

Espinosa was arrested in Abu Dhabi several days after his father, Albuera, Leyte mayor Rolando Espinosa Jr., was shot dead in a pre-dawn CIDG operation on November 5, 2016. The CIDG alleged that the mayor resisted when they served a search warrant for firearms inside his detention cell.

During the Senate inquiry, Espinosa said he sourced his illegal drugs supply from Cebu.

“Sa Cebu ko ito kinukuha, sa tao nina Lovely Adam Impal at Jeffrey Diaz alias Jaguar at na kay Peter Lim naman kinukuha. Minsan kasi noong nasa BBRC pa ako nabanggit na sa akin ni Jaguar ang shabu na aming kinakalakal ay galing kay Peter Lim,” he said in one of his statements.

(I get my supply from the men of Lovely Adam Impal and Jeffrey Diaz, alias Jaguar, who, in turn, get their supply from Peter Lim.)

Obusan said they used the testimony of only one witness, Adorco's, to support their case because they were considering Espinosa as a possible state witness against Lim. Espinosa was then placed under the government's witness protection program.

“Itong kanyang driver na si Adorco ay may direct participation sa paglaganap ng droga. So ‘yung direct participation na ‘yun, it's no longer hearsay. It does not need any collaboration because that is a direct participation coming from a person directly involved (in the crime) doon sa paggawa ng kasalanan,” he said.

But during the preliminary investigation that started in August 2017, Espinosa denied his previous statements before the Senate which prompted the CIDG to send a letter to the Justice department about Espinosa's refusal to cooperate and ask that he be removed from the WPP.

Obusan said the DOJ did not respond to their letter.

On December 20, 2017, DOJ prosecutors noted that Adorco’s statements were inconsistent, which Obusan attributed to the "frailties of a person’s memory."

“Ang sinasabi nilang inconsistency hindi magkakatugma to dates ‘yung mga statement ni Adorco pero that is very natural. Ang pinag-uusapan natin dito is numerous transactions hindi lang iisa. Those transactions happened years past, mahirapan ka madetermine ‘yung exact time and date but places madali and directly binanggit ni Adorco sa aming complaint na finile nandun naman lahat ng material na bagay na ‘yun at ang inestablish lang dito is probable cause,” said Obusan.

“That is well grounded belief that a crime has been committed and directly sinasabi na dito so sabi nga sa ibang jurisprudence its up on the court now to expound more kung ano ‘yung talagang nangyari kasi doon na ‘yung merit by merit na usapan. Ang ating pinupush sa prosecution during this time is a reasonable mind na meron kang well grounded belief na nangyari ito,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)

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