STORY OF THE DAY


DOJ INDICTS ESPINOSA, CO, OTHERS OVER ILLEGAL DRUG TRADE CONSPIRACY



The Department of Justice (DOJ) has found probable cause to file charges against self-confessed drug dealer Kerwin Espinosa, convicted drug lord Peter Co and others over the drug complaint filed by the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The new prosecutor panel reversed the earlier ruling in December 2017 that cleared the suspects including Cebu-based businessman Peter Lim from charges due to “weak evidence”.

According to the Office of the Prosecution General, Espinosa, Co, and other respondents Lovely Impal and Ruel Malindagan conspired to commit illegal trade – a violation of Section 26 (B) in relation to Section 5 of the RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

The state prosecutors found the testimony of lone witness, Espinosa's driver Marcelo Adorco as 'sufficient', tagging Impal and Malindagan as Espinosa's cohorts in selling and distributing drugs in the Visayas.

The DOJ added – it considered Espinosa's confession that he traded drugs in Region 7 and 8.

Espinosa's group will be charged before the Makati City Regional Trial Court.

Meanwhile, Lim was not included in the filing of drug charges as his case is pending after the DOJ granted his motion for a separate preliminary investigation.

Meanwhile, this was welcomed by the PNP.

PNP Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said he was glad with the development of the case, noting that there was 'damning evidence' to indict the suspects as “the case build-up was consistent from the start.”

The Palace also welcomed the decision, saying “it is very pleased that the wheels of justice are turning to hold them accountable."

It can be recalled that former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II ordered the re-investigation of the case after he earned the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte when the ruling was publicized only in March.

Aguirre resigned amid the controversy and was replaced by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.