Police insist probable cause vs Kerwin Espinosa

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 14) — The Philippine National Police on Wednesday said the flip-flopping statements of self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa is not enough reason for the panel of prosecutors to junk charges against him.

The PNP's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) questioned why government prosecutors dismissed its high-profile drug cases against Espinosa, Peter Lim, Peter Co, and several others for alleged conspiracy to sell illegal drugs.

"I am questioning the decision. That's why I filed a motion for reconsideration," PAN-CIDG Chief Director Roel Obusan said.

The CIDG chief believes they have a solid case against Espinosa and his alleged co-conspirators, despite the fact that Kerwin - during a preliminary investigation into his case - retracted his statement he worked with Lim, Co, and others.

He said the testimony of Kerwin's driver and personal bodyguard Marcelo Adorco is a solid case against the self-confessed drug personality.

Adorco claimed to be a close confidante of the Espinosa family after meeting Kerwin in prison in 2011, and said he had a notebook that contained the list of people who had illegal drug transactions with the Espinosas.

"Ang inestablish lang dito is probable cause, 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," Obusan said.

The prosecution panel's resolution dismissed the charges against Espinosa, stating Adorco is not a credible witness based on inconsistencies in his testimonies.

They added the CIDG failed to present circumstantial evidence to prove the suspects' illegal drug deals.

Obusan said it's hard to keep track of every little detail especially if it happened years ago, but it does not mean the witness is not credible.

"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," he said.

Espinosa, during a Senate hearing on November 23, admitted he sold illegal drugs and connived with Lim, Co and others.

"Sa Cebu ko po ito kinukuha, sa tao nina Lovely Impal at Jeffrey Diaz alias "Jaguar" na kay Peter Lim naman niya kinukuha. Minsan kasi nung nasa BBRC pa ako, nabanggit na sakin ni Jaguar na ang shabu na aming kinakalakal ay galing kay Peter Lim," he said in November.

The CIDG admits it did not use Espinosa's statement as it believes Adorco's statements is enough to show probable cause, adding Kerwin retracted his statements at the Senate during the preliminary investigation.

On September 27, 2017, Obusan wrote a letter to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II informing him Kerwin is not cooperating and must not be placed under the Witness Protection Program. But Obusan said they are open to use the minutes of the Senate hearing as evidence if necessary.

The prosecution panel dismissed the CIDG's case against Kerwin and others on December 20. But the CIDG only received a copy of the resolution on February 7, 2018 and filed their appeal on February 19, 2018.

Aguirre on Tuesday ordered the creation of new panels to review the decision. One panel will look into the motion for reconsideration filed by the police, while the other panel will look into the possibility of wrongful exercise of authority of the state prosecutors.

If they lose in the appeal, Obusan said they will use their recently reacquired subpoena power to gather more pieces of evidence to pin Kerwin and the others down.

Kerwin was the son of the late Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa who was killed in a police operation at a Leyte jail. The elder Albuera was an accused drug lord as well.