By Jeffrey Damicog
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is set to file in court on Tuesday the criminal charges against self-confessed drug lord Rolan “Kerwin” Espinosa and his co-accused over their alleged involvement in the illegal drugs trade.
“We will file the charges tomorrow (July 24),” said senior assistant state prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, who chairs the second panel of prosecutors handling the case, on Monday.
On Thursday, the second panel issued a resolution which declared that probable cause has been found to indict the Espinosa and his co-accused with conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade in violation of Section 26(b) in relation to Section 5, Article II of Republic Act 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Aside from Espinosa, those who have been ordered charged are convicted drug lord Peter Co; Espinosa’s detained alleged associate Marcelo Adorco; arrested drug trader Lovely Impal; and Ruel Malindagan.
Navera said the charges will be filed before the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC).
“The conspiracy as well as the execution of the conspiracy falls within the jurisdiction of Makati,” he explained.
The second panel issued the resolution after having conducted a preliminary investigation over the complaint filed by Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group’s Major Crimes Investigation Unit (PNP-CIDG-MCIU) against the respondents which included Cebu-based businessman and suspected drug lord Peter Lim.
Navera had explained that the second panel granted Lim’s motion for a separate preliminary investigation.
Meanwhile, Navera assured that the second panel is busy drafting the resolution regarding the accusations against Lim.
“As we speak the resolution is already being drafted. So as soon as it is ready we will release it,” he had said.
The second panel was formed back in March by then Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II after the first panel of prosecutors–composed of assistant state prosecutor Michael John Humarang and former assistant state prosecutor and now Judge Aristotle Reyes—issued a resolution dated Dec. 20, 2017 which dismissed the complaint due to weak evidence which relied solely on the statements of Adorco.
In his order dated March 19, Aguirre said “the Resolution dated December 20, 2017 dismissing this instant case be vacated and the above-mentioned case be remanded to a new panel of prosecutors for purposes of conducting the continuation of the preliminary investigation/clarificatory hearing and to allow the complainant and respondents to submit additional pieces of evidence in support of their respective positions.”
Navera explained the second panel made a different finding since more pieces of evidence were presented during its preliminary investigation.
“There were pieces of evidence before that were not presented which were presented before our panel. So this actually changes the equation,” Navera said.