‘Not guilty’ – Kerwin Espinosa
Self-confessed illegal drug distributor Kerwin Espinosa pleaded not guilty during his initial arraignment at the Manila Regional Trial Court (MRTC) on Friday morning.
Espinosa was charged for violating Section 5 Article 2 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act (Republic Act 9165).
The charges were originally heard by Baybay City Regional Trial Court Branch 14 but the Supreme Court has ordered its transfer to Manila upon the request of the prosecution and defense, citing security reasons.
Wearing bulletproof vest and heavily guarded by members of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Espinosa maintained his innocence during the hearing at MRTC Branch 26, and even accused the police of planting evidence against him.
“Wala talaga akong kasalanan kasi mga kagagawan ng mga pulis lagi na lang nilang ginagawa na mag-plant ng scenario para lang sa accomplishment nila,” Espinosa told reporters after the hearing.
(I really am not guilty because it’s the police’s practice to make scenarios to accomplish their goals.)
The prosecution accused Espinosa of ordering his employees – Marcelo Adorco, Jose Antipuesto, Jessie Ocarez, Ernesto Dumalat, and Jeffrey Pesquera – to sell shabu.
The men were caught in a buy-bust operation on July 28, 2016, yielding 219.28 grams of the illegal substance.
However, Espinosa claimed he was out of the country at the time of the operation, thus should not be prosecuted for the offense.
“Paano mo makakasuhan ang isang tao na wala sa isang lugar? Andun ako sa ibang bansa bakit nila ako finile-an ng kaso? When they (conducted) an operation wala ako doon tapos dinamay nila ako sa kaso,” he said.
(How can you accuse a person who is not there? I was overseas, why would they charge me? I was not there when they conducted an operation but they included me in the case.)
For security reasons, Espinosa’s lawyers asked the court to conduct separate hearings for the other case filed against their client.
Manila court Judge Silvino Pampilo approved the request and ordered weekly marathon hearings so he could arrive at a decision by May or June 2018.
The pre-trial hearing will commence on November 10.
Espinosa is the son of slain Albuera City Mayor Rolando Espinosa, who was killed while in prison during a highly controversial pre-dawn raid by members of the Philippine National Police’s Crime Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) at the Leyte sub-provincial jail in Baybay City.
Last year, Espinosa told a Senate investigation that Senator Leila de Lima received money from him through her driver, Ronnie Dayan, in order to raise funds for her 2016 senatorial bid. /kga
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.