De Lima’s camp hopes Kerwin’s retraction will inspire other witnesses to tell the truth

The camp of detained reelectionist Senator Leila de Lima is hoping that witnesses in her drug cases in Muntinlupa will get “inspiration and moral strength” from Kerwin Espinosa who retracted his statements against her and said he had no dealings with her and “has not given her any money at any given time.”

Espinosa executed a counter-affidavit regarding a Department of Justice-ordered investigation into his alleged illegal drug trade activities at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa based on his extra-judicial confession he made during the Senate investigation into the killing of his father, Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., conducted in November and December 2016.

Senator Leila de Lima leaves the Muntinlupa Hall of Justice after attending a hearing in one of her cases in 2019. (Jonathan Hicap)

He said the National Bureau of Investigation filed a case against him “hoping that respondent Espinosa will cooperate and affirm in various Courts his testimony given during the Senate hearings held on 23 November 2016 and 5 December 2016, but Espinosa has no intention of doing so since he was only coerced, pressured, intimidated, and seriously threatened by the police.”

“Finally, any and all of his statements given during the Senate hearings, or in the form of sworn affidavits, against Senator Leila De Lima are not true. He has no dealings with Sen. De Lima and has not given her any money at any given time,” according to Espinosa.

He added, “Any statement he made against the Senator are false and was the result only of pressure, coercion, intimidation, and serious threats to his life and family members from the police who instructed him to implicate the Senator into the illegal drug trade.”

“For this, undersigned apologizes to Senator De Lima,” Espinosa added.

The DOJ filed three drug cases against De Lima in Muntinlupa in 2017. One case was dismissed by a court last year and two are pending. All are for conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading. De Lima has branded all the cases as trumped-up charges.

Lawyer Boni Tacardon, one of De Lima’s lawyers, said he hopes witnesses will emulate Espinosa and tell the truth.

“Tinitingnan din namin ang salaysay ni kerwin espinosa na isang insentibo sa mga nagbigay ng maling salaysay at nagdiin kay sen. de lima upang lumabas na at maghayag ng katotohanan. sana makakuha sila ng inspirasyon at moral strength sa ginawa ni Kerwin at samahan siya sa pagyakap sa katotohanan (We see Kerwin Espinosa’s statement as an incentive to those who gave false statements and implicated Sen. De Lima to come out and tell the truth. I hope they can get inspiration and moral strength from what Kerwin did and join him in embracing the truth),” Tacardon told Manila Bulletin.

Tacardon said he remembered when Espinosa first came out and made his statement in the Senate. He said De Lima and Espinosa had the chance to face each other and the senator told him that she believed that he was only forced and threatened to give false statements.

“Dahil dito, agad na pinatawad siya ni Sen. De Lima. Kaya sa tingin ko na walang plano si Sen. De Lima na magsampa ng kaso sa kanya. pero sana naman eh ituloy na ni Kerwin ang pagkampi sa katotohanan at isiwalat na ang detalye ng kanyang pag amin na siya ay tinakot at pinilit na idawit si Sen. De Lima sa illegal na droga. (Because of this, Sen. De Lima quickly forgave him. I think Sen. De Lima has no plans to file a case against him but I hope that Kerwin will continue to side with the truth and divulge all details about his confession that he was threatened and forced to implicate Sen. De Lima to illegal drugs),” he added.

Tacardon said Espinosa is not a witness to any case of De Lima but believes that “truth will prevail and we are confident that Sen. Leila will achieve true justice.”

“We will continue to defend Sen. De Lima and that is our focus,” he said.