MANILA - Presidential candidate and Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson said on Friday it is up to self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa to "justify and defend himself" after he recanted his allegations against detained senator Leila de Lima.
"Now I don’t know what happened na nagrecant siya sa court," Lacson said in a statement. "If somebody files a perjury case against him, that’s his look out. He has to justify and defend himself."
Lacson added that he was the one who presided over Senate hearings involving Espinosa.
"I presided that hearing and it was an open hearing where everybody was free to talk, they were placed under oath," the senator said. "They were administered their oath and ang assumption at that time they were telling the truth. And they told the truth."
But since Lacson is no longer the chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order, it is up to the present chairman to call for a new hearing.
The panel's current chairman is Duterte ally Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa.
Espinosa said in a counter-affidavit filed on Thursday that his claims against De Lima, who has been detained since February 2017 over illegal drug charges that which she dismissed as political persecution, are not true.
He previously claimed that he gave P8 million in drug payoffs to De Lima when the latter was still Justice secretary, through her former driver, Ronnie Dayan.
At a Senate hearing in 2016, Espinosa alleged that Dayan called him in August 2015 to solicit money for the campaign kitty of De Lima in exchange for protecting his drug deals.
"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," Espinosa's counter-affidavit read.
"For this, undersigned apologizes to Senator De Lima."
Amid mounting calls for De Lima's release, Malacañang said Espinosa's retraction would not affect her remaining drug cases.
Out of three drug cases against the detained senator, two are still pending before a local court. One was junked last year.