DOJ says Kerwin not a witness in remaining 2 drug-related cases vs De Lima
(FILE) Kerwin Espinosa (R), son of the late mayor Rolando Espinosa, gestures as he answers the Senators’ question during the Senate drug hearing at the Senate building in Manila on November 23, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Noel Celis
(Eagle News) – Malacanang said the recantation of self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa of his allegations against senator Leila De Lima would not hurt the drug case against the senator.
“While Kerwin Espinosa appears to have recanted his allegations against Senator Leila de Lima, his recantation will not have any effect on the pending criminal cases against the lady senator,” a Palace statement said on Friday, April 29.
“We have to underscore what the Prosecutor General said — Mr. Espinosa is not a state witness,” it said.
Espinosa who had testified against De Lima in a Senate hearing in 2016 now claims through his lawyers that his statements against the senator back then were made under duress.
His lawyer, Raymund Palad, said that any statement made by Espinosa against De Lima “was the result only of pressure, coercion, intimidation, and serious threats to his life and family members from the police who instructed him to implicate the Senator into the illegal drug trade.”
-Kerwin’s statements, immaterial, says DOJ-
The Department of Justice (DOJ) said that Espinosa’s recantation of his testimony won’t affect the cases against De Lima, since he is not the prosecution’s main witness against the lady senator.
(FILES) This file photo taken on February 24, 2017 shows Philippine Senator Leila de Lima, a former human rights commissioner who is one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s most vocal opponents, waving to her supporters after appearing at a court in Muntinlupa City, suburban Manila. – From behind bars, Philippine senator and human rights campaigner Leila de Lima is running for re-election in an against-the-odds campaign that gives her the chance to once again “go after” President Rodrigo Duterte. (Photo by Noel CELIS / AFP)
The prosecution is set to present its last three witnesses against De Lima on May 16.
“The prosecution will not utilize Espinosa as a witness in this case because his then statements/affidavit which he recanted are immaterial to the prosecution’s case,” the DOJ said in a statement.
-“Glaring delay” in recantation, questionable, says DOJ-
The DOJ also questioned the more than five years delay in the recantation of Kerwin’s testimony. It said that this made Kerwin’s recantation suspicious.
“He (Kerwin) executed said affidavit only on 28 April, more than five years after his testimony was given before the Senate in 2016 and other subsequent affidavits executed in 2017. The glaring delay on the part of respondent Espinosa in recanting his previous statements poses a question on
his truthfulness and motive,” the DOJ said
It maintained that De Lima, the former Justice secretary during the term of the late president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, had regularly received money from drug lords jailed inside the Bureau of Corrections facility to finance her senate candidacy for the May 2016 elections.
De Lima still has two pending drug-related cases before the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branches 204 and 256. Espinosa is not a witness in either of the cases.
-Excluded from WPP-
Way back on February 7, Espinosa, his wife and dependents, had already been excluded from the Witness Protection Program, according to Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva.
According to the DOJ, the lapses committed by Espinosa while under the protective custody of the National Bureau of Investigations were the following: harassment of other inmates; smuggling activities; drinking liquor; extorting money from other inmates; violating curfew hours and roaming around cells of other inmates despite warnings; communicating with other inmates also incarcerated on drug cases; and possessing prohibited items such as mobile phones and bladed weapons.
(Eagle News Service)