MANILA (UPDATE) - Self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa should not be cleared of drug charges as he already admitted to running a syndicate before lawmakers, a senator said Tuesday.
Sen. Richard Gordon called the Department of Justice's resolution to drop drug charges against Espinosa a "terrible" decision, saying Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has some explaining to do.
"It's terrible, it's terrible. Lahat kami sa Senado downhearted dahil paano naman maabsuwelto 'yan e inamin na nga e," Gordon told DZMM Teleradyo.
Espinosa earlier said he earned P50 million yearly in the illegal drug trade while giving out P20 million in protection money to individuals linked to his illegal drug network.
He told senators he gave at least P3 million to the police official who led the raid that led to the killing of his father, Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.
Espinosa was arrested in Abu Dhabi in October 2016.
Gordon suspects Espinosa was cleared of drug charges as part of a "strategy" as the son of the slain Leyte town mayor had implicated detained Senator Leila de Lima in his drug operations.
"Maaaring may strategy sila dahil ang tinuro niya si ano e, si De Lima, na kasama niya. So maaaring 'yun. Pero hindi dapat siya maabsuwelto sa pagpasok niya ng malalaking droga," said Gordon.
De Lima, a critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, has been detained since February 2017 after being linked to the illegal drug trade by convicted drug lords.
Espinosa claimed he himself gave drug money to the senator.
Aguirre on Tuesday said he would exercise his power of automatic review "soonest" to see if there was "grave abuse of discretion or misappreciation of facts" in the dismissal of the complaint.
The justice chief added that the dismissal of the drug charges is "not a final exoneration of their respective criminal liabilities" because it is subject to automatic review or a motion for reconsideration.
The DOJ dropped drug charges against Peter Lim, Peter Co, Marcelo Adorco, Max Miro, Lovely Impal, Ruel Malindangan, Jun Pepito, Jermy Amang and several others identified by their aliases.
Aguirre will still review the resolution of these cases, signed and approved by acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr.
-with a report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News