By Martin Sadongdong
The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday night expressed elation with the decision of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to finally indict self-confessed drug dealer Rolan “Kerwin” Espinosa, convicted drug trafficker Peter Co, and their alleged accomplices.
PNP chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde said in a statement that the decision only proved that the case filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) against Espinosa, Co, alleged dealer Marcelo Adorco, supplier Lovely Impal and Ruel Malindagan could stand on its own and the pieces of evidence presented to the court were sufficient.
The DOJ announced Thursday that the second panel of prosecutors who reviewed the case of Espinosa and his co-accused issued a resolution which recommends that they be charged with conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade in violation of Section 26 (b) in relation to Section 5, Article II of the Republic Act (RA) 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.
“I am glad that [the] DOJ found merit in the case filed by the CIDG against Kerwin Espinosa and several other respondents for violation of RA 9165,” Albayalde said.
“The CIDG case buildup was consistent from the start. There was damning evidence to indict Kerwin, et al. for the crime,” he added.
The decision was a complete turnaround from the first ruling that the DOJ, then under Vitalliano Aguirre II, made in March 2018 where the case was dismissed by the preliminary investigation panel due to “weak evidence.”
Aguirre earned criticisms from the public and even from President Duterte, himself, because of this and by April, he resigned from his post.
Meanwhile, the PNP, then under Ronald dela Rosa, said the decision was a “temporary setback” in the government’s campaign against illegal drugs and immediately filed a motion for reconsideration asking the DOJ to review its ruling.
CIDG director Roel Obusan said they have submitted additional pieces of evidence in the filing of a motion for reconsideration to strengthen the case, including the Senate inquiry on November 23, 2016 where Espinosa confessed of his illegal drug transactions.
The CIDG earlier admitted they failed to submit such damning evidence to the DOJ which led to the dismissal of the case.
The PNP’s filing of drug-related charge against Espinosa, et al. was based from the sworn statement issued by Adorco, who was arrested in a buy-bust operation in Albuera, Leyte in July 2016.
Adorco, a former trusted man of Espinosa, accused Co and businessman Peter Lim as the supposed suppliers of the Espinosa drug group operating in Central and Eastern Visayas.
Lim and Co were also the same persons named by Duterte in July 2016 as the ones allegedly handling the illegal drug transactions in the Visayas region.
As for Lim’s case, the DOJ allowed the motion for a separate preliminary investigation which he filed.
Meanwhile, Espinosa was arrested in October 2016 in Abu Dhabi. His father, Albuera, Leyte mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. was shot dead in a police operation conducted by the CIDG on November 5, 2016 while being detained in Baybay Provincial