Facing separate drug rap, Kerwin Espinosa recants allegations vs De Lima

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Facing separate drug rap, Kerwin Espinosa recants allegations vs De Lima
This undated file photo shows Kerwin Espinosa.
The STAR / Edd Gumban, file

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 5:59 p.m.) — Defending himself in a separate criminal rap at the Department of Justice, confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa retracted his allegations against Sen. Leila de Lima and said he had no dealings with the detained lawmaker.

Lawyer Raymund Palad confirmed to Philstar.com that his client has signed and subscribed to a counter-affidavit where he claimed he was "only coerced, pressured, intimated, and seriously threatened by the police" during Senate hearings in November and December 2016.

Part of his affidavit read:

Finally, any and all of his statements given during the Senate hearings, or in the form of sworn written affidavits, against Senator Leila de Lima are not true. He has no dealings with Sen. De Lima and has not given her money.

Espinosa also said statements he made against the detained senator werethe result of pressure and coercion.

Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento however asserted that Espinosa’s recantation will not have any effect on the DOJ’s case against De Lima.

“Di siya witness ng prosecution. Wala because di namin sya witness,” he said.

(He is not a witness for the prosecution. This has no effect since he is not out witness)

De Lima's lawyer Filibon Tacardon said that Espinosa's recantation shows that testimony and evidence against the detained senator was fabricated.

"We have always believed that no matter the lies perpetrated by coerced witnesses, in the end, the truth will still come out," he said.

"We hope that other witnesses will also come out and confess how they were intimidated, coerced, and bribed  into making false testimonies against the good senator and if possible, name those who actively participated in coercing them to come up with such ridiculous narratives against the good senator."

De Lima was originally charged with three drug cases, over her supposed hand in the proliferation of drugs in the New Bilibid Prison when she was justice secretary. She has been acquitted in one case and has two pending cases before the Muntinlupa courts.

NBI complaint

Palad told Philstar.com in a phone call that the counter-affidavit was part of their defense to a criminal complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation after Espinosa was removed from the Witness Protection Program.

According to the complaint, it covers instances from 2011 to 2016 where Espinosa transacted with shabu traders in Bilibid.

In his counter-affidavit, Espinosa said the NBI complaint was based on his extrajudicial confession during the Senate hearings in November and December 2016 into the killing of his father, Mayor Rolando Espinosa.

He accused the NBI of filing the raps in hoping he will “cooperate and affirm in various courts” his Senate hearing testimonies.

But he insisted that he “has no intention of doing so since he was only coerced, pressured, intimidated and seriously threatened by the police.”

Palad said Espinosa signed the counter-affidavit on Wednesday while he was in isolation in Bicutan, and he attended a Zoom hearing with the DOJ where Espinosa also took oath and affirmed to the contents of the document and his signature.

Asked for comment, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he has no personal knowledge on the matter and the OPG is currently verifying it.

He however noted that the copy “does not show that it was subscribed before a prosecutor or a notary public.” 

The STAR reported that Espinosa was dropped as a state witness due to various offenses he allegedly committed while he was in NBI custody. He also allegedly attempted to break out of detention and extorted money from other detainees.

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