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Thread: COPS and ROBBERS: The Law Enforcement and Crime Thread

  1. #281
    Dismissal of case vs Espinosa, Lim puzzles PNP officer

    By: Faye Orellana - @inquirerdotnet / 08:42 AM March 13, 2018

    The police officer who ran after alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa expressed dismay over the dismissal of criminal charges against the drug personality and fellow accused Peter Lim.

    Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido, Ozamiz City police director, raised the possibility on Tuesday that the Philippine National Police (PNP) did not submit Espinosa’s testimonies given during a Senate hearing.

    Espenido was the chief of police of Albuera, Leyte, where Espinosa’s father Rolando Sr. was mayor. The police officer arrested Rolando Sr. and filed drug charges against him and Espinosa.

    “Kung matandaan natin, he (Espinosa) admitted noon that he is a drug lord sa Senate. Sa Senate sinabi niya yun, may transcript diyan,” he said in an interview with dzMM.

    “Pero sa ganun lang, I don’t know baka hindi sinubmit nung PNP yung mga testimony niya, transcipt niya, para basis na drug trafficker si Kerwin Espinosa,” he added.

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday cleared the drug trafficking cases filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) last year against Lim and Espinosa.

    The DOJ resolution, approved by acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr., was issued on Dec. 20, 2017, but it was released to media only on Monday.

    Espenido also expressed bewilderment on what happened to the case filed by the CIDG given the protocol of the police to gather concrete evidences against someone.

    “Nagtaka nga ako kung bakit ganun. Alam naman kaming mga pulis na before mag-file ng kaso, mag gather talaga yung ebisensya para ‘di masayang,” Espenido said

    “I really don’t know the reason why ‘yung CIDG nag-file, na ang kinahatnan ay na-dismiss lang,” he added. /cbb

  2. #282
    CIDG submitted ‘weak’ evidence vs Kerwin – Aguirre

    By: Faye Orellana - @inquirerdotnet / 07:26 AM March 14, 2018

    The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) did not include the confession of Kerwin Espinosa before the Senate when the police filed charges against him and other drug personalities, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Wednesday.

    Aguirre made the disclosure amid an uproar after the National Prosecution Service (NPS) of the Department of Justice dismissed the drug charges against Espinosa, alleged drug lord Peter Lim and 20 others due to “weak evidence.”

    “Yung sinasabi nilang admission ni Kerwin sa Senado, walang nagfile niyan. Hindi yan isinubmit bilang ebidensya dito sa kaso ni Kerwin at ni Peter Lim,” Aguirre said in an interview with dzMM.

    On Nov. 23, 2016, Espinosa read a sworn statement during a Senate hearing and admitted that he had engaged in the drug trade. He narrated how he started in the business and identified his drug sources, including his alleged protectors in the Philippine National Police.

    The justice secretary said it was not the obligation of prosecutors to listen to the Senate hearings for them to consider the statements done by the high-profile drug suspects.

    “Hindi obligasyon ng ating mga piskal na makinig ng lahat ng napag-uusapan sa Senado,” Aguirre said.

    “The obligation of the counsels, ng mga parties, ang mag-submit niyan sa ating prosecutor’s office para iyan ay ma-consider,” he added.

    He advised the CIDG to get a copy of Espinosa’s confession before the Senate, as well as the testimonies of other drug personalities, and file this when they submit a motion for reconsideration to review the drug case.

    On Tuesday, Aguirre set up a new panel of prosecutors that would handle the motion for reconsideration to review the decision of the first panel. /cbb

  3. #283
    Duterte will review dropping of charges vs suspected drug lords

    By: Jeannette I. Andrade, Leila B. Salaverria, Marlon Ramos - @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 07:25 AM March 14, 2018

    Reacting to the outrage over the exoneration of high-profile drug kingpins, President Rodrigo Duterte questioned the findings of state prosecutors that the evidence against the suspects was weak, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Tuesday night.

    “I will invoke my power of supervision and control and will review the dismissal,” Roque quoted Mr. Duterte as saying, as the presidential spokesperson provided social media updates on a joint command conference in Malacañang.

    Mr. Duterte told Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II that the latter would take the places of Cebu businessman Peter Lim and confessed drug trader Kerwin Espinosa if the two would go scot-free, Roque said.

    The President also asked why the admission in Congress, in apparent reference to Espinosa, was not admitted as evidence.

    A Department of Justice (DOJ) panel of prosecutors threw out the complaint against Lim, Espinosa and several others, saying the evidence presented by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group was weak.

    New DOJ panel

    The DOJ panel added that the testimony of the lone witness, Marcelo Adorco, had “inconsistencies.”

    Roque also said on social media that Aguirre had formed a new investigation panel to review the case against Lim and Espinosa.

    He also said the Philippine National Police would ask the DOJ to reconsider the ruling of prosecutors dismissing the case against Espinosa and Lim.

    Malacañang said it was concerned with the exoneration of the high-profile drug lords and vowed not to let the big fish get away if there was evidence against them.

    Roque said the Palace understood the public’s “sentiments and frustration” over the dismissal of the drug trafficking complaint.

    The dismissal came in the wake of the killing of thousands of low-level drug suspects in police operations or by vigilantes.

    While the exoneration of the high-profile drug suspects drew criticism, it was welcomed by Lim.

    Peter Lim thanks DOJ

    The suspected drug lord expressed thanks to the DOJ “for rendering a just resolution because after all, the pronouncement of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, which found headline in Cebu Daily News on Oct 1, 2016, is correct.”

    Aguirre said the resolution issued by a DOJ panel—composed of Assistant State Prosecutors Michael John Humarang and Aristotle Reyes—would be subjected to review “either by a motion for reconsideration, or ultimately, by way of automatic review by my office.”

    Aguirre said it was too early for Lim and his fellow respondents to claim victory.

    Weak evidence

    In one of his early moves in the drug war, Mr. Duterte named Lim as one of the people behind the illegal narcotics trade in the Visayas and threatened to kill him.

    “The moment he lands at [the airport], he will die,” he said of Lim, who had been frequently flying to China.

    Lim denied the allegation when he was granted a meeting with Mr. Duterte, his wedding compadre (cosponsor).

    Aside from Lim and Espinosa, also absolved were convicted drug lord Peter Co, Adorco, Lovely Impal, Max Miro, Ruel Malindangan, Jun Pepito and several others known only by their aliases.

    Refile cases

    Like Espinosa, Co testified in a legislative inquiry linking detained Sen. Leila de Lima to the narcotics trade.

    Espinosa and his employee Adorco also named Lim as the main source of the illegal drugs they had sold in Eastern Visayas.

    Roque said the police could refile the cases and introduce new evidence that would be enough to sustain a conviction.

    “The President’s promise is if the evidence is lacking, we will submit more; and if there are shenanigans, we will punish those responsible,” he said in a press briefing. – With a report from Ador Vincent S. Mayol

  4. #284
    Clearing of drug lords upsets solons

    By: Christine O. Avendaño - @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 07:26 AM March 14, 2018

    Senators slammed on Tuesday the move by state prosecutors to clear suspected drug lords Kerwin Espinosa and Peter Lim from drug charges, warning that the administration’s war on drugs would be adversely affected.

    They expressed hope that Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II would reverse the dismissal of the drug trafficking charges.

    But Vice President Leni Robredo wondered whether the Department of Justice (DOJ) still deserved to be trusted by the public.

    Robredo said the decision of a DOJ panel of prosecutors to dismiss the charges against Espinosa and Lim was frightening.

    “First of all, because one of them is a confessed drug pusher. In fact, one of them is a witness against Senator [Leila] de Lima who is saying they gave her money out of drugs. What does that say?” she told reporters.

    Congressional inquiry

    Robredo was referring to Espinosa, who claimed during a congressional inquiry that he had given millions of pesos to De Lima through her former driver Ronnie Dayan during her time as justice secretary.

    De Lima has been detained at a Philippine National Police facility in Camp Crame since February last year due to drug-related charges, which she calls “politically motivated and trumped-up.”

    Sen. Richard Gordon, whose blue ribbon committee investigated the allegations against Espinosa, also wondered why the administration was waging an antidrug war “only to dismiss” the cases of big fish.

    Gordon noted that during the Senate inquiry last year, Espinosa testified he was into the illegal drug trade, admitted to giving protection money to someone and narrated his life in prison where he had made drug deals.

    Advice to Mr. Duterte

    Espinosa, Lim and several others were absolved by a DOJ panel of prosecutors due to the alleged weak evidence presented by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the “inconsistencies” in the testimony of its lone witness, Marcelo Adorco, who was also cleared of the charges.

    The resolution was issued on Dec. 20, 2017, but the media came to know about it only on Monday.

    Gordon said President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs would be hurt if the matter was not resolved properly. “I am advising the President … that he should look into this right away.”

    Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon doubted that Aguirre had not been informed by the DOJ panel of its decision to drop the charges against Lim and Espinosa.

    “Having said that, the President should review this, because the Office of the President has supervision and control over all Cabinet secretaries,” Drilon told reporters.

    Senators Grace Poe, Bam Aquino and Antonio Trillanes IV were convinced that the DOJ panel should have established probable cause to indict Espinosa and Lim for illegal drug trafficking.

    Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Espinosa at the least should have been charged based on the evidence that was presented in the Senate inquiry.


    Poe said she was “disturbed” by the basis used by the DOJ panel in recommending the dismissal of the charges.

    “How a confessed drug lord like Kerwin Espinosa can be exonerated by the State, is perplexing. It reflects the sloppiness of the police’s investigation and case buildup against these drug lords,” Poe said in a statement.

    “Is the prosecution really searching for evidence?” she asked.

    For his part, Trillanes said the dropping of charges against the two suspected drug lords showed that Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs was fake.

    “If the person is poor, no more questions are asked and he is killed immediately,” Trillanes said in a statement.

    ‘Fake war’

    “If the persons involved are drug lords and they are the compadre (wedding cosponsor) of Mr. Duterte, due process is observed and they are absolved.”

    Trillanes also noted that De Lima, a vocal critic of the President, ended up being charged in court even if the scripted testimony against her was all tangled.

    The Liberal Party (LP) also took the line of Trillanes.

    “If Kerwin Espinosa is not involved in drugs, then what reason remains for him to bribe Sen. Leila de Lima, as he claimed in his testimony? What reason remains for Senator De Lima to be in jail,” the LP said in a statement.

    The political party said De Lima was innocent of the illegal drug charges filed by the government against her.

    Justice for a few

    The exoneration of suspected drug lords has cast doubt on the administration’s antidrug war, Aquino said.

    “Justice is only for a few and not for each Filipino,” he said in a statement.

    Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the dropping of the charges was a “blow to government credibility in its antidrug operations.”

    Sen. Win Gatchalian said the turn of events was a “big setback in achieving a drug-free society in our country.”

    Drug list unreliable

    Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano noted that the basis of the alleged involvement of Espinosa and his father, the slain Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa, in the illegal drug trade was Mr. Duterte’s drug list.

    Thus, he said, the DOJ’s dismissal of the complaint due to lack of evidence “is short of admitting that the drug list of Duterte is unfounded and unreliable.”

    Alejano also slammed the hypocrisy of the administration drug war. “Big-time drug lords are acquitted, while poor small-time drug users face death at an instant. This is supposedly how the ‘justice’ system works under the Duterte administration,” he said.

    Like Alejano, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the dismissal of charges against Espinosa and Lim demonstrated the administration’s policy of selectiveness in implementing the law.

    “The policy of the Duterte administration is to liberate drug lords and liquidate small fry,” he told a news conference.

    Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin, speaking at the same forum, said it was time to release De Lima.

    “What is sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose. Senator De Lima has spent a year in detention even without a formal trial. If this is what happens, all the more the need to release the good senator,” he said.

  5. #285
    How will DOJ now handle De Lima case? Ex-SolGen asks

    By: Marlon Ramos - Reporter / @MRamosINQ Philippine Daily Inquirer / 07:24 AM March 14, 2018

    The dismissal of the criminal case against high-profile drug kingpin Peter Lim and other alleged narcotics bosses has put the Department of Justice (DOJ) in a bind in a similar complaint involving detained Sen. Leila de Lima, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said on Tuesday.

    Hilbay, one of the lawyers for De Lima, lamented how the DOJ treated the two complaints differently although they both involved alleged violations of Republic Act No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

    In July 2016, President Duterte tagged Lim, who turned out to be his wedding compadre (cosponsor), as the biggest drug lord in the country.

    “The DOJ applied the basic rules to confessed drug lords [but] created new rules and waived all legal doctrines with respect to someone who has been politically persecuted,” Hilbay told the Inquirer, referring to De Lima.

    Rules changed

    “This shows the political character of the war on drugs,” he said. “They bent the rules and drafted new rules just to justify De Lima’s detention. That is what’s fundamentally wrong in this war on drugs.”

    The DOJ brought drug charges against De Lima after she, as chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, opened an inquiry into the thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings in President Duterte’s war on drugs.

    Mr. Duterte’s allies in the Senate, however, stripped De Lima of the leadership of the committee and gave it to Sen. Richard Gordon, under whom the inquiry found no extrajudicial killings in the drug war.

    De Lima incurred the ire of the President for investigating in 2009, as chair of the Commission on Human Rights, alleged killings by a death squad of suspected criminals in Davao when Mr. Duterte was mayor of the city.

    ‘Bogus’ drug war

    Hilbay said the junking of the drug-trafficking case filed by the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) last year also showed that Mr. Duterte’s crackdown on the narcotics trade, which had claimed the lives of thousands of mostly poor suspects, was “bogus.”

    “It’s political in nature so it’s a fake war on drugs,” Hilbay said.

    Besides Lim, also cleared by the DOJ panel of prosecutors were confessed drug kingpin Kerwin Espinosa, convicted drug lord Peter Co, Lovely Impal, Max Miro, Ruel Malindangan, Jun Pepito and several others known only by their aliases.

    Espinosa and Co, who had been serving time at the state penitentiary in Muntinlupa City, both testified that De Lima collected protection money from the illegal drug trade while she was the justice secretary, an allegation the senator denies.

    No corpus delicti

    Hilbay pointed out that the DOJ prosecutors also faulted the CIDG for its failure to present the narcotics that the drug kingpins allegedly traded as the corpus delicti (evidence proving the crime) to be used against them.

    Hilbay said the DOJ “conveniently” overlooked this basic legal principle in prosecuting drug cases in its recommendation to indict De Lima.

    In fact, he said, the DOJ’s three separate resolutions against De Lima did not even mention the type of illegal drugs that the senator allegedly traded in conspiracy with convicted drug lords.

    “In the case of the drug lords identified by the President himself, they decided to apply the basic rule requiring [the submission] of corpus delicti as evidence of the crime,” Hilbay said.

    “In the case of De Lima, there’s no [confiscated illegal drugs presented as evidence]. But she has been in pretrial detention for over a year now,” he stressed.

    The former solicitor general said the defense raised that legal issue in the motion for reconsideration it filed in the Supreme Court seeking a reversal of the tribunal’s decision that upheld the legality of De Lima’s detention.

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