Witness vs Espinosa, De Lima retracts: I was forced to sign affidavit linking them
MANILA, Philippines — A witness against Kerwin Espinosa recanted his allegations against the self-confessed drug lord, as well as his testimonies linking detained Senator Leila de Lima to the drug trade, claiming he was threatened and coerced to sign the affidavit against the two.
“Wala pong katotohanan ang lahat ng aking alegasyon sa nasabi kong Affidavit kung saan umamin ako na ako ay sangkot sa kalakaran ng illegal na droga at isinangkot ko si Kerwin Espinosa at iba pang tao,” said Marcelo Adorco in a four-page counter-affidavit submitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on May 24.
(There is no truth to all my allegations in the Affidavit in which I admitted that I was involved in the illegal drug trade and that I implicated Kerwin Espinosa and other people.)
“Ang totoo niyan, napilitan lamang akong pirmahan ang nasabing Affidavit dahil sa pangamba sa aking buhay at kaligtasan,” he added.
(The truth is, I was only forced to sign the said Affidavit out of fear for my life and safety.)
According to Adorco, a police officer wrote his affidavits while he was detained at the Albuera Police Station in Leyte after just being arrested in a buy-bust operation on July 28, 2016.
Meanwhile, in a 26-page counter-affidavit he submitted on August 28, 2020, Adorco claimed he was threatened by former Albuera Police chief Jovie Espenido and forced him to sign his affidavits in 2016 and 2017 – where he alleged Espinosa met up with De Lima in Baguio City to hand her drug money.
Espinosa himself had already retracted this claim as well.
“Sinabi sa akin ni Sir Espenido na nanganganib ang aking buhay at ang tanging paraan na makaiwas ako sa kapahamakan ay ang pagtestigo laban kay Kerwin at iba pa dahil ipapasok daw ako ni Sir Espenido sa Witness Protection Program,” Adorco said.
(Sir Espenido told me that my life was in danger and the only way I could avoid disaster was to testify against Kerwin and others because Sir Espenido would put me in the Witness Protection Program.)
He said Espenido also promised him financial help – but none arrived until he was eventually sentenced to life imprisonment.
Adorco in the same 2020 counter-affidavit also denied being Espinosa’s bodyguard, as well as knowing some of the personalities he tagged in alleged drug operations.
“Hindi ko po kilala sina Lovely Impal, Peter Co, Peter Lim, at Secretary Leila De Lima. Hindi ko po sila nakita at nakausap kahit minsan,” he said.
(I don’t know Lovely Impal, Peter Co, Peter Lim, and Secretary Leila De Lima. I have never seen or talked to them.)
“‘Yong picture po ni Kerwin Espinosa at ni Hazel Mago kasama si Secretary Leila De Lima ay nakuha po ‘yon galing sa Facebook at ibinigay lamang sa akin ng isang pulis noong ginawa ang aking affidavit,” he continued.
(The picture of Kerwin Espinosa and Hazel Mago with Secretary Leila De Lima was taken from Facebook and was only given to me by a police officer when I made my affidavit.)
“Wala po akong personal na kaalaman tungkol sa sinasabing pagkikita raw ni Kerwin at ni Secretary De Lima sa Baguio City,” he added.
(I have no personal knowledge about the alleged meeting between Kerwin and Secretary De Lima in Baguio City.)
Adorco also explained that he was actually in no position to know about the supposed illegal drug operations.
“Wala po akong personal na kaalaman tungkol sa mga transaksyon daw ni Kerwin kay Lovely Impal, Peter Co, at Peter Lim tungkol sa illegal na droga o shabu. Wala po akong kapasidad na malaman ang mga ito dahil hindi naman po ako nagtatrabaho kay Kerwin,” he said.
(I have no personal knowledge about Kerwin’s alleged transactions with Lovely Impal, Peter Co, and Peter Lim regarding illegal drugs or shabu. I don’t have the capacity to know them because I don’t work for Kerwin.)
“Lahat ng mga kwento tungkol sa ‘kaalaman’ ko raw sa mga bagay na ito ay gawa-gawa lamang ni Sir Espenido at ng mga tauhan niyang mga pulis,” he added.
(All the stories about my “knowledge” of these matters were fabricated by Sir Espenido and his police personnel.)
Adorco also admitted he wrongfully identified Peter Co as Peter Lim during the preliminary investigation because he simply did not know who they actually were.
Another proof of made-up charges vs De Lima
De Lima’s legal counsel, Atty. Bonifacio Tacardon, once again asserted that drug charges against the senator were clearly fabricated especially with Adorco’s recantation.
“Hindi testigo si Adorco sa kaso ni Senator De Lima. Pero sa tingin namin, sumasalamin ito sa matagal na naming sinasabi na ang mga kaso laban kay Senator De Lima ay pawang gawa-gawa lamang ng mga taong tinakot at ginipit para gumawa ng kasinungalingan at palabasin na si Senator De Lima ay sangkot sa bentahan ng ilegal na droga,” he said in a statement.
(Adorco was not a witness in Senator De Lima’s case. But we think this reflects what we have long said that the cases against Senator De Lima are all fabricated by people who have been intimidated and coerced into telling a lie and claiming that Senator De Lima was involved in illegal sale of drugs.)
“Lumalabas na ang totoo, kaya patuloy ang panawagan namin sa DOJ na muling suriin ang mga kasong isinampa nila laban kay Senator De Lima at tuluyan nang ibasura ito at palayain ang mahal nating Senadora,” he added.
(“The truth is coming out, so we continue to call on the DOJ to reexamine the cases they filed against Senator De Lima and finally dismiss it and release our dear Senator.)
De Lima has been detained since February 2017 on drug charges she denied and described as “trumped-up” countless times.
Prior to Adorco’s retraction, Espinosa, former Bureau of Corrections Officer-in-Charge Rafael Ragos, and the senator’s former aide Ronnie Dayan have all withdrawn their testimonies against de Lima.
Espinosa claimed he was coerced by police while Ragos claimed he was interrogated and coerced by former justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to testify against the senator. Dayan, for his part, said all his statements against de Lima were made “under duress.”
Prosecution witness and convicted murderer Joel Capones also recently denied in open court that he had transacted with, identified, or even knew de Lima, who is one among the fiercest critics of President Rodrigo Duterte.