De Lima camp mulls charges vs people who implicated her in drug trade

Raffy Cabristante, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 28 2022 08:36 PM | Updated as of Apr 28 2022 08:52 PM

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MANILA — The camp of Sen. Leila de Lima said Thursday they are considering filing counter-charges against those who coerced self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa into implicating her in the illegal drugs trade.

De Lima’s legal counsel and spokesperson Rolly Peoro said in an ANC interview that the senator will not let her accusers go “off the hook,” adding that he was not surprised by Espinosa’s recantation of his allegations against her.

“I cannot tell yet what the next action of Sen. De Lima is. But as an advocate of justice, surely… she will not let this off the hook or taken for granted," Peoro said.
"We will surely take to justice all the persons involved in the great injustice done to Sen. De Lima."

Peoro said that President Rodrigo Duterte nearing the end of his term may have been one of the reasons that pushed Espinosa to declare that his allegations against De Lima are not true.

De Lima, a former Justice Secretary and Commission on Human Rights chair, has maintained that the charges against her are politically motivated as she continued to criticize Duterte's policies, including the deadly war on drugs.

“We always knew Kerwin was lying. It was just a matter of time before he tells the truth… We are just so unlucky it took him many years to do that,” Peoro said.

The lawyer noted that Espinosa’s recantation will “lay the pattern that many of the witnesses have been fabricating evidence,” and were “being coerced by the administration.”

“It only reinforces our stand that Sen. Leila De Lima [has been] innocent from the very start,” he said.

“We really hope that all the witnesses will muster the same courage of Kerwin Espinosa. And we expect soon justice and truth will prevail,” he added.

Espinosa’s lawyer Raymund Palad shared the self-confessed drug lord’s latest affidavit stating that his allegations against De Lima were not true, and that he had no dealings with the senator.

“Any statement he made against the Senator are false and was the result only of pressure, coercion, intimidation, and serious threats to his life and family members from the police who instructed him to implicate the Senator into the illegal drug trade,” the document read.

“For this, undersigned apologizes to Senator De Lima.”

"Nananalig po tayo, sa huli, Katotohanan at Hustisya ang laging mananaig," a statement on De Lima's official social media accounts read late Thursday afternoon.

Her allies reiterated their call for her immediate release.

“Ngayong binawi na ni Kerwin Espinosa ang lahat ng mga paratang laban kay Senator Leila De Lima, dapat palayain na si Senator Leila -- now na!" said Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan.
"Sinabi mismo ng aminadong drug lord na walang katotohanan ang mga paratang laban kay Senator Leila. Patunay na gawa-gawa ang mga ito," he added.

Pangilinan lamented, "Napakalaking sampal sa katarungan ang mahigit limang taong pagkakapiit ni Senator Leila."

Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno echoed Pangilinan's views.

"Malinaw rin na ang mga kasong isinampa ay kapritso lang at paghihiganti," he said.

De Lima is running for another six-year Senate term in the May 9 elections, mounting her campaign from her detention cell.

She belongs to the same slate as Diokno's, led by presidential candidate Vice President Leni Robredo and vice presidential aspirant Pangilinan.

De Lima has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City since February 2017.

One of the 3 drug cases against her had been junked by a Muntinlupa court.

— with reports from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News