MANILA - Self-confessed drug distributor Kerwin Espinosa should testify against his alleged cohorts Peter Lim and Peter Co, police Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido said Tuesday, after drug trading charges against the trio were dismissed.
The Department of Justice on Monday said it dropped the charges against the alleged drug kingpins and 19 others after the prosecution's sole witness failed to prove that the group conspired in the sale and distribution of narcotics in the Visayas.
The justice department said police can file charges against the accused but they have to make sure that these are backed by more evidence and corroborated testimonies.
Espenido, a former police chief in Espinosa's hometown in Albuera, Leyte, noted that the professed drug lord can testify against Lim and Co, whom he tagged in a 2016 Senate inquiry as his narcotics suppliers.
"Si Kerwin Espinosa dapat, nand'yan naman siya sa Witness Protection Program, siya naman ang mag-star witness laban kay Peter Lim at saka Peter Co," said Espenido, now chief of the Ozamiz City police, told DZMM.
(Since Kerwin Espinosa is already under the Witness Protection Program, he should be a star witness against Peter Lim and Co.)
"Siya rin naman ang nagsabi na iyun ang mga kasamahan niya," he added.
(He himself had said that those were his partners.)
President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016 publicly identified Lim, Co and Herbert Colanggo alias Ampang as the 3 biggest drug dealers in the country.
Lim, who is Duterte's co-sponsor at a wedding, had denied the accusation.
Espinosa and his father, former Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa, meanwhile, were also publicly accused by Duterte of dabbling in narcotics.
The elder Espinosa surrendered in August 2016 to answer the accusations.
He was killed 3 months later by police who were conducting a predawn "raid" inside Baybay sub-provincial jail where Espinosa was held.
His son was arrested by Abu Dhabi police in October 2016.
As court proceedings rolled against the younger Espinosa, 2 of his lawyers were killed in separate shootings while 3 prosecution witnesses also died, said Espenido.
The police official urged the DOJ to provide security to the prosecution's last remaining witness, Marcelo Adorco.
"Nagtaka nga ako na since nag-execute ng affidavit si Adorco, nilapit agad natin sa Witness Protection Program, pero hanggang ngayon, hindi pa rin na-approve. Bakit si Kerwin na matagal nang nahuli, parang ang dali na matanggap sa Witness Protection Program?" he said.
(I am puzzled since as soon as Adorco executed an affidavit, we applied for his admission to the Witness Protection Program, but it has yet to be approved. Why was Kerwin easily accepted to the Witness Protection Program? )
Adorco, who was arrested in a buy-bust operation in July 2016, claimed he became a close confidante and bodyguard of the Espinosas after meeting Kerwin in prison in 2011. He issued 3 affidavits detailing the activities of his bosses, Co and Lim.
The testimonies were cited in the charges against the alleged drug lords, but the DOJ said these were rife with inconsistencies and based on hearsay.
Adorco remains detained at a jail in Albuera, said Espinosa.
The cop said he is confident that Espinosa, Co, and Lim can still be convicted if more witnesses against them come forward.