Makati court drops drug raps v. Kerwin Espinosa, Peter Co

·3 min read

A MAKATI court has dropped the drug charges against members of the so-called Espinosa drug cartel, including Rolan “Kerwin” Espinosa and Wu Tuan Yuan, alias Peter Co.

In a 13-page order dated December 17, Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 64 Judge Gina Bibat-Palamos dismissed the charges “for failure of the prosecution to adduce evidence to overturn the presumption of innocence enjoyed by the herein accused.”

The court ruling granted the demurrers to evidence filed in July by Kerwin, Co, witness Marcelo L. Adorco, and Lovely A. Impal, questioning the sufficiency of the charges against them and seeking the dismissal of these charges.

A demurrer to evidence is a motion to dismiss on the ground of insufficiency of evidence where a defendant cites that the evidence produced by the prosecution is insufficient, whether true or not, to make out a case.

The group faced charges for violation of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

“In proving that the Espinosa Group conspired to commit illegal trading or trafficking of dangerous drugs, the prosecution heavily relied on the sole testimony of Adorco. However, the court... declared Adorco’s sworn statements as inadmissible in evidence because the same was extracted from him by the police officers in violation of his rights under custodial investigation,” the court said.

“For one, Adorco, unwittingly, was made to be a witness against himself. For another, the rule is that even if the confession contains a grain of truth, if it was made without the assistance of counsel, it becomes inadmissible in evidence, regardless of the absence of coercion or even if it had been voluntarily given,” it added.

The case involved a 2013 transaction involving 20 kilograms of shabu at the parking area of Cash and Carry Mall in Makati City.

In a statement given sans counsel, Adorco said he met Espinosa in 2011 while he was detained at the Alta Vista jail in Ormoc City for illegal possession of firearms and helped distribute drugs to inmates.

As Espinosa’s errand boy after his release from jail, Adorco was tasked to pick up 20 kilograms of shabu from Yuan, who directed him to proceed to the Metropolitan Hospital where Impal, Yuan’s drug runner, was waiting.

After the transaction, he returned to the Ormoc City jail where he showed the shabu to Espinosa and then delivered it to a certain Max Miro in Albuera, Leyte.

After the initial transaction, he participated in at least four similar delivery activities in Metro Manila.

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said prosecutors would pursue the case, noting that Espinosa and other drug lords still face other cases in other parts of the country.

“I’m saddened by this development. I have not seen an official copy of the court order. But I have directed the prosecutor general to exhaust all legal remedies, foremost of which is to file a motion for reconsideration with the trial court. Kerwin Espinosa is not off the hook yet. I understand that he is still facing an unfinished case before RTC-Manila and another drug case in Albuera, Leyte,” he told reporters.

Guevarra said law enforcement agents are also on the lookout for drug lord Peter Lim.

“Sooner or later, the long arm of the law will catch up with these people and they will answer for their crimes. Peter Lim has only been indicted, not yet convicted. But he’s been on the run,” he said.

Malacañang, meanwhile, refused to comment on the matter, with Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles saying Wednesday they have not seen a copy of the decision yet. (PNA / LMY)

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