By Dane Angelo M. Enerio
THE Department of Justice (DoJ) on Thursday announced it has found probable cause to charge self-confessed drug lord Rolan Kerwin Espinosa, convicted drug lord Peter Co, Marcelo L. Adorco, Lovely A. Impal, and Ruel S. Malindagan for committing conspiracy to trade illegal drugs.
The case against Mr. Espinosa and his co-accused was dismissed on Dec. 20 last year before being reopened by then justice secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre II on April 12.
Acting Prosecutor-General Richard Anthony Fadullon told reporters, “Meron ebidensya dito naibigay sa ikalawang panel (There is evidence here submitted to the second panel) which was not made available to the first one.” He said the first panel dismissed the case “because they were saying there were certain pieces of evidence which were not adduced by the CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group).”
According to Mr. Fadullon, “this actually changes the equation.”
He cited in particular the CIDG’s submission of transcripts of stenographic notes (TSN) by the Senate Committee on Justice and Public Order which contained self-incriminating statements by Mr. Espinosa.
For his part, Senior Assitant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro C. Navera, who heads the new panel of prosecutors, said, “This is all a matter of interpretation as well as appreciation.”
“The fact is the PNP (Philippine National Police)-CIDG presented the TSN of the Senate Committee on Justice and Public Order and we sifted through the TSN itself and we saw how the confessions really changed everything,” Mr. Navera said.
Mr. Navera also said the charges will be filed on Friday at the Makati Regional Trial Court, as this court has jurisdiction on the case.
Mr. Espinosa and his co-accused will be charged with violation of Section 26(b) in relation to Section 5, Article II of Republic Act (RA) No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The complaint against alleged drug lord Peter Go Lim “has been submitted for resolution,” Mr. Navera also said.
“As we speak, the resolution is already being drafted so as soon as it is ready we will release it,” he added.
Mr. Lim’s case went through a separate preliminary investigation, as per his request granted by the DoJ panel.
In response to the DoJ’s resolution, Presidential Spokesperson Herminio “Harry” L. Roque, Jr. told reporters in a text message, “the Palace is very pleased that the wheels of justice are turning to hold them (Espinosa, et al.) accountable.”
Mr. Lim is known to be a friend of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, with the two having met in 2016 to discuss the former’s innocence with regards to the drug complaint.
Mr. Duterte also criticized Mr. Aguirre’s dismissal of the drug charges against Mr. Lim and the others when news of it broke out in March, weeks before Mr. Aguirre tendered his resignation to the President. — with a report from Arjay L. Balinbin