PNP passes buck to DOJ after Kerwin Espinosa recants claims vs de Lima

The Philippine National Police (PNP) will let the Department of Justice (DOJ) take the lead in investigating the case of self-confesses drug trader Kerwin Espinosa after he took back all the accusations he made linking detained Senator Leila de Lima to alleged illegal drug activities inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

Kerwin Espinosa (file photo)

Police Brig. Gen. Roderick Augustus Alba, chief of PNP public information office, said the PNP has yet to receive a copy of the counter-affidavit of Espinosa after he recanted his accusations against De Lima on Thursday.

“The PNP remains committed to seek the truth in every case it handles. But the case is already in the jurisdiction of the Court. Let the justice system take its due course,” Alba said in a statement Friday, April 29.

“Nevertheless, if deemed necessary, handa naman kaming gumawa ng sariling imbestigasyon sa ngalan ng hustisya (we are ready to conduct our own probe in the name of justice),” he added.

In a four-page counter-affidavit submitted to the DOJ, Espinosa retracted all his accusations against De Lima, particularly those linking the lawmaker to illegal drug trade inside the NBP.

Espinosa is facing a drug trafficking charge filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in 2021 before the DOJ which was based on his extrajudicial confession on Dec. 14, 2016 and the statements he made when he attended the hearings conducted by the Senate Joint Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs Committee on Justice and Human Rights Inquiry.

The said hearings included the investigation on the killing of his father, the late Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa, inside his cell at the Baybay City Jail on November 15, 2016 due to alleged illegal drug activities.

Espinosa said that his extrajudicial confession and the statements at the Senate hearings contained made-up stories to implicate De Lima to the illegal drug activities inside the NBP during her time as the Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary.

“ny and all his statements given during the Senate hearings, or in the form of sworn affidavit, against Senator Leila de Lima are not true,” read part of Espinosa's counter-affidavit.

“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,” it added.

Apparently, Espinosa was removed from the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP) just last February of this year due to several “infractions” he committed while under the program, including his alleged attempt to escape from his cell at the NBI detention facility.

Espinosa had been under WPP since 2017 since he was used as one of the witnesses against De Lima's drug-related charges.