DOJ mulls perjury case vs Kerwin Espinosa for retracting affidavit vs De Lima
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) is looking at a possible perjury case against self-confessed drug dealer Kerwin Espinosa, who took back his testimony connecting Senator Leila de Lima, a staunch Duterte critic, to the illegal drug trade.
DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Friday he will discuss the matter of filing a perjury charge against Espinosa with the panel of prosecutors handling the case.
“Whether or not his testimony is material to the prosecution’s cause, making false statements under oath is a criminal offense,” Guevarra said when asked if they are inclined to rap Espinosa for his retraction.
DOJ Undersecretary Adrian Sugay echoed this, stressing that Espinosa’s initial testimony was made under oath.
“Tinitingnan ‘yan ngayon ng ating Office of Prosecutor General, kung puwede ngang makasuhan [ng perjury], kasi nga magkaiba ‘yung kaniyang naging statement,” Sugay said during the Laging Handa briefing.
(The Office of Prosecutor General is looking into it now if he can be charged with perjury because his statements were different.)
Sugay said Espinosa’s statements were “inconsistent.”
“I think that is something Mr. Espinosa has to contend with. He has to answer ‘yung issue na ‘yan. Anong nangyari? Bakit ganun? (What happened?)” Sugay said.
“Baka nga mayroong liability si Espinosa (Maybe Espinosa has a liability), but that is something he will have to contend with and he will have to address and something that he has to deal with eventually,” he added.
In his counter-affidavit submitted before the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday, Espinosa said that his previous statements against De Lima were “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.”
Espinosa said the contents of the December 14, 2016 affidavit he signed were not explained to him by a counsel of his own choice.
Espinosa likewise apologized to De Lima, a fierce critic of President Rodrigo Duterte. The senator has been in detention since February 2017 over what she has repeatedly branded as “trumped-up” drug charges.
Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento earlier said Espinosa’s retraction has no effect on the government’s case against de Lima.
De Lima’s legal counsel, meanwhile, expressed hopes that other witnesses who were “intimidated, coerced, and bribed into making false accusations” against the legislator would also “come out and confess.”
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