Alleged drug lord Rolan “Kerwin” E. Espinosa has recanted his testimonies that he had dealings with detained Sen. Leila M. De Lima on illegal drugs.
In a four-page counter-affidavit submitted before the Department of Justice (DOJ), Espinosa said that “any and all of my statements given during the Senate hearings, or in the form of sworn written affidavits, against Senator De Lima are not true.”
“For this, undersigned apologizes to Senator De Lima,” Espinosa said.
Espinosa was referring to the testimonies he made during the Senate hearings held on Nov. 23, 2016 and Dec. 5, 2016 concerning the death of his father, Albuera Mayor Roland Espinosa Sr., who was allegedly killed by the police while in jail.
De Lima, who is currently detained at the Custodial Center of the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame in Quezon City, is facing illegal drugs charges before the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) over her alleged involvement in the narcotics trading in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
“I have no dealings with Sen. De Lima and I have not given her any money at any given time,” Espinosa’s said in his counter-affidavit.
“Any statements I made against the Senator are false and were the result of pressure, coercion, intimidation, and serious threats to my life and my family members from police who instructed me to implicate the Senator into the illegal drugs trade,” he said.
Espinosa, who is currently detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) facility in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City, filed the counter-affidavit in response to the complaint dated last Dec. 1, 2021 that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed before the DOJ concerning his alleged illegal drug dealings with inmate drug lords of the NBP from 2011 to 2016.
In the complaint, the NBI recommended that Espinosa and his 27 co-respondents be prosecuted for violating Republic Act (RA) No. 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, and for violating RA 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001.
In his counter-affidavit, Espinosa also denied “all the charges against me by the National Bureau of Investigation-Task Force Against Illegal Drugs (NBI-TFAID) on the basis of my extra-judicial confession during the hearings conducted on Nov. 23 and Dec. 5, 2016 by the Senate Joint Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs and Committee on Justice and Human Rights Inquiry and Investigation on the killing of Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.”
He likewise denied the Dec. 14, 2016 extra-judicial confession (EJC) he made since “the same was not voluntarily executed by the undersigned and the contents thereof were not fully explained to me by a counsel of my own choice.”
“I was also misled by the police into signing the same due to verbal promise of dismissal of cases filed against me which promise turned out to be false,” he said.
“Undersigned is no longer a witness for the prosecution. I was already removed from the Witness Protection Program and they cannot use my alleged confession before the Senate, or any written documents, to prove my guilt and those of other persons I may have implicated. The complaint must rely on the strength of its own evidence and not on the basis of my alleged admissions outside of Court which the complainant itself even admitted in paragraph 1 of the Complaint as ‘my extra-judicial confession,’” he also pointed out.
Meanwhile, Prosecutor General Benedicto A. Malcontento expressed confidence that what Espinosa did will not affect the drug charges against De Lima.
“Di naman namin ginamit as witness si Kerwin (We never used Kerwin as a witness),” Malcontento said.
DOJ Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra issued a notice of termination dated Jan. 31, 2022 on Espinosa’s removal from the witness protection program.
“Your coverage under the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Program (WPSBP), upon the recommendation of OIC Deputy Director effective immediately, in view of your continued commitment of various violations inside the detention facility...,” Guevarra told Espinosa.
Among the violations cited in Guevarra’s notice were harassment of other inmates; smuggling activities; drinking liquor; extorting money from other inmates in exchange that the latter will not be committed to another detention facility; violating the curfew hours and roaming around the cells of other inmates, despite repeated warnings not to do so; communicating with other inmates on cases involving violations of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002; and possessing prohibited items such as mobile phones and bladed weapons, during clearing operations.
“Further, on 13 January 2022, the National Bureau of Investigation discovered that you and two other inmates were planning to escape from the detention facility which is contrary to the Memorandum of Agreement you have with the WPSBP,” Guevarra also said.