The DOJ filed three counts of violation of Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act), particularly conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade against Espinosa, convicted drug lord Peter Co, Lovely Impal and Ruel Malindangan.
Edd Gumban
DOJ indicts Kerwin Espinosa for drug trade
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - July 26, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) formally indicted yesterday Kerwin Espinosa and three others for drug trade after the new panel of investigators found probable cause to charge them in court.

The DOJ filed three counts of violation of Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act), particularly conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade against Espinosa, convicted drug lord Peter Co, Lovely Impal and Ruel Malindangan.

Prosecutor General Richard Anthony Fadullon said two counts of drug charges were filed against the respondents before the Manila regional trial court. A separate case was lodged before the Makati City RTC.

The DOJ filed the drug cases after a reinvestigation conducted by the panel chaired by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera found basis in the complaint of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) against Espinosa and company, including Cebu-based businessman Peter Lim.

However, the DOJ has yet to resolve the complaint against Lim after the panel granted his petition for a separate preliminary investigation.

In its resolution released last week, the DOJ found probable cause to indict the respondents for drugs.

The DOJ reversed an earlier decision of the previous panel composed of Assistant State Prosecutors Michael John Humarang and  Aristotle Reyes, which cleared Espinosa, Co and Lim.

The investigating panel based its findings on the testimony of state witness Marcelo Adorco, who confessed participation in the drug trade.

Adorco tagged Espinosa, Co, Impal and Malindangan as his cohorts.

The DOJ stressed that contrary to the defense of Espinosa, who is facing other drug cases before the Manila RTC, the confiscation or presence of illegal drugs was not necessary to establish the criminal liabilities of the respondents.

It explained that under RA 9165, conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading is an offense distinct from drug trading per se.

The panel cited as basis the confession of Espinosa during a Senate inquiry that he was involved in drug trade in Regions 7 and 8.

The DOJ cleared three other respondents – Max Miro, Nestor Pepito and Rowen Reyes Secretaria – who died recently.

Last year, the DOJ dismissed the charges of sale, administration, dispensation, trading, delivery and transportation of illegal drugs against the respondents. 

The previous panel blamed the CIDG for presenting weak evidence and “inconsistencies” in the testimony of Adorco.

The DOJ reopened the case on orders of resigned secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II after he drew flak over the dismissal of the charges.

Additional pieces of evidence were submitted to the DOJ by the CIDG through the Ofice of the Solicitor General, including a new affidavit of Adorco detailing a supposed meeting between Lim and Espinosa in Thailand in 2015 where they allegedly closed a drug deal.

Police submitted records from the Bureau of Immigration to support Adorco’s testimony.

The CIDG also presented to the prosecutors the transcripts of the 2016 Senate hearings on the killing of Espinosa’s father, Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., where he confessed his role in the illegal drug trade as well as the 2002 House committee on dangerous drugs report on the inquiry into the drug activities of Lim and his brother Wellington.

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