Kerwin Espinosa recants drug trade accusations vs Sen. Leila de Lima
MANILA, Philippines — Self-confessed drug trader Kerwin Espinosa has taken back his allegations that connected Senator Leila De Lima in the business of illegal drugs inside the New Bilibid Prison.
His retraction was contained in a counter-affidavit submitted before the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday.
“Any statement he made against the Senator are false and was the result 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,” the counter-affidavit states.
“For this, undersigned apologizes to Senator De Lima,” adds the legal document signed by Espinosa.
— tetch torres-tupas (@T2TupasINQ) April 28, 2022
Espinosa still has a pending drug trafficking case before the DOJ. This complaint was filed the by the National Bureau of Investigation in 2021, using his extrajudicial confession on December 14, 2016, as well as the statements he made during the inquiry conducted by the Senate joint committees on public order and dangerous drugs and justice and human rights on the killing of his father, Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.
But Espinosa said the contents of the December 14, 2016 affidavit he signed were not explained to him by a counsel of his own choice. Instead, he said, he was given a verbal promise that the case against him will be dismissed “which turned out to be false.”
Made up stories
Based on the complaint filed by the NBI, Espinosa admitted he learned the ropes of the drug trade while he was at the Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center through mobile phones. When he was moved to the New Bilibid Prison, he purportedly continued the drug business.
He also allegedly said that even after he was released, he was able to continue with the drug trade since his long-time fellow inmate remained at Bilibid located in Muntinlupa City.
Now, he said those stories were made up for the Senate hearings since he was “coerced, pressured, intimidated, and seriously threatened by the police.”
“He has no other option but to invent stories for fear of his life and of his family since his father, then [Albuera, Leyte) Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. was killed on November 15, 2016, just 18 days prior to the Senate hearing. Respondent was told to cooperate or else he and some members of his family will suffer the same fate as his father,” his counter-affidavit states.
Espinosa said that because he has been removed from the Witness Protection Program, the NBI can no longer use his supposed confession before the Senate or any written documents to prove his guilt and those of other people he may have implicated.
“The complainant must rely on the strength of its own evidence and not on the basis of Espinosa’s alleged admissions outside of Court which the complainant itself admitted…as his ‘extrajudicial confess’,” his counter-affidavit says.
Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento said Espinosa’s recantation has no effect on the government’s case against de Lima.
“Hindi siya witness ng prosecution [He is not the prosecution’s witness],” Malcontento said in a message to reporters.
The Witness Protection Program or WPP is a program under the DOJ which was established via Republic Act No. 6981. It aims “to encourage a person who has witnessed or has knowledge of the commission of a crime to testify before a court or quasi-judicial body, or before an investigating authority, by protecting him from reprisals and from economic dislocation.”