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DOJ: Espinosa retraction won't affect drug charges vs De Lima

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DOJ: Espinosa retraction won't affect drug charges vs De Lima
Undated photo shows Kerwin Espinosa.
The STAR / Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice said Friday the retraction of confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa “bears no weight” because his previous affidavits were not and will not be used by the prosecution as evidence.

The DOJ issued the statement after Espinosa retracted his accusations against Sen. Leila De Lima and said in a counter-affidavit that he was “only coerced, pressured, intimidated, and seriously threatened by the police” to make his previous statements.

“Mr. Rolan ‘Kerwin’ Espinosa’s retraction with regard to his statements about his alleged transactions with Senator De Lima will not, in any way, affect the pending drug cases which the latter is facing before two branches of the Regional Trial Court of Muntinlupa City,” the department said.

“The previous statements or affidavits of Mr. Espinosa which he now recanted were never utilized and will not be used by the prosecution as evidence in the two pending drug cases against accused Senator Leila M. De Lima,” it added.

Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento earlier said Espinosa’s recantation will not have any effort on the DOJ’s case against De Lima because he is not a wtiness.

The DOJ also questioned the truthfulness and motive of Espinosa’s retraction of his statements more than five years after his testimony was given before the Senate in 2016 and other subsequent affidavits executed in 2017.

A part of Espinosa’s 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.”

‘Eye-opener’

In response to the DOJ’s statement, De Lima’s lawyer Boni Tacardon said the department tried to make Espinosa a witness.

“Kaya nga siya unang naipasok sa Witness Protection Program ng DOJ. Pero ang DOJ na mismo ang nagpasya na wag siyang gamitin bilang testigo. Kung ano ang dahilan ng pagbawi eh hindi po namin alam,” Tacardon said.

(That’s why he entered the DOJ’s Witness Protection Program. But the DOJ decided not to use Espinosa as a witness. We do not know the reason for that.)

Espinosa was removed from the Witness Protection Program due to offenses he committed while he was detained at the National Bureau of Investigation.

“Dapat din nating tingnan ang kanyang salaysay na isang eye-opener para sa iba pang mga testigo na dumanas din ng panggigipit at pananakot upang maglabas lang ng salaysay na magdidiin kay Senator De Lima,” he added.

(We should also view the statement of Espinosa as an eye-opener for other witnesses who experienced harassment to release statements that will implicate Senator De Lima.)

The opposition senator 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.

De Lima has two pending cases. She had been acquitted in one case.

“I have been languishing in jail for the past five years on the basis of testimonies of convicted criminals who, like Kerwin Espinosa, were used by the DOJ to manufacture lies about me and about crimes that I did not commit,” De Lima said. 

 

 

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

KERWIN ESPINOSA

LEILA DE LIMA

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