MANILA — A key government witness against Kerwin Espinosa has taken back his allegations against the self-confessed drug lord, including a claim against detained Senator Leila de Lima.
Marcelo Adorco, presented by the prosecution as Espinosa’s bodyguard and driver who supposedly knows the extent of his drug dealings, recanted his previous affidavits, in a counter-affidavit submitted to the Department of Justice on May 24.
“Wala pong katotohanan ang lahat ng aking alegasyon sa nasabi kong Affidavit kung saan umamin ako na ako ay sangkot sa kalakaran ng illegal na droga at isinangkot ko si Kerwin Espinosa at iba pang tao,” he said.
“Ang totoo niyan, napilitan lamang akong pirmahan ang nasabing Affidavit dahil sa pangamba sa aking buhay at kaligtasan,” he said, explaining he had just been arrested and was detained at the Albuera, Leyte Police Station when he executed the affidavits on August 4, 2016 and June 21, 2017.
In the August 4, 2016 affidavit, Adorco accused Espinosa and his late father, former Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa of being involved in a large-scale illegal drug trade in Bohol, Samar, Northern Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran and parts of Cebu with alleged drug lord Peter Lim and convicted drug lord Peter Co.
He added Lovely Impal, supposedly Espinosa’s secret lover and contact with Peter Co, in the June 2017 affidavit and September 2017 additional affidavit.
Adorco is facing drug raps along with Espinosa before the DOJ, which prompted him to file a counter-affidavit.
Along with his recent counter-affidavit, he attached a counter-affidavit he submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation in August 2020 where he categorically denied being Espinosa’s bodyguard and knowing some of the personalities tagged in the alleged drug operations.
“Hindi ko po kilala sina Lovely Impal, Peter Co, Peter Lim at Secretary Leila De Lima. Hindi ko po sila nakita at nakausap kahit minsan,” he said.
“‘Yong picture po ni Kerwin Espinosa at ni Hazel Mago kasama si Secretary Leila De Lima ay nakuha po ‘yon galing sa Facebook at ibinigay lamang sa akin ng isang pulis noong ginawa ang aking affidavit. Wala po akong personal na kaalaman tungkol sa sinasabing pagkikita raw ni Kerwin at ni Secretary De Lima sa Baguio City,” he added.
Espinosa had told the Senate in 2016 that he supposedly gave De Lima drug money in Baguio City, although he retracted this allegation in his own counter-affidavit filed before the DOJ in April this year.
Adorco said he was in no position to know about the supposed illegal drug operations.
“Wala po akong personal na kaalaman tungkol sa mga transaksyon daw ni Kerwin kay Lovely Impal, Peter Co, at Peter Lim tungkol sa illegal na droga o shabu. Wala po akong kapasidad na malaman ang mga ito dahil hindi naman po ako nagtatrabaho kay Kerwin,” he said.
Instead, he accused former Albuera Police chief Jovie Espenido of forcing him to sign affidavits implicating Espinosa and others, while he was detained at the Albuera police station.
He claimed he was not assisted by any lawyer, was not informed of his rights and neither was he warned of the possibility that his own affidavit could be used against him, as what has supposedly happened now.
“Sinabi sa akin ni Sir Espenido na nanganganib ang aking buhay at ang tanging paraan na makaiwas ako sa kapahamakan ay ang pagtestigo laban kay Kerwin at iba pa dahil ipapasok daw ako ni Sir Espenido sa Witness Protection Program,” he said.
“Maliban dyan, may matatanggap din daw ako na pinansyal na tulong mula sa Witness Protection Program sa pamamagitan ng allowance,” he added.
But no financial assistance supposedly came and the drug charges against him were not withdrawn. Instead, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
In the 2020 counter-affidavit, Adorco explained that because he was just told what to say, he got some details of his testimony wrong, such as inconsistent dates.
He also admitted wrongfully identifying Peter Co as Peter Lim during the preliminary investigation.
NOT PRESENTED AS WITNESS VS DE LIMA
De Lima’s lawyer, Bonifacio Tacardon, clarified that Adorco was not presented as witness against De Lima in any of her drug cases. But he pointed out that the recantation is indicative of what's happening to other witnesses.
“Hindi testigo si Adorco sa kaso ni Senator De Lima. Pero sa tingin namin, sumasalamin ito sa matagal na naming sinasabi na ang mga kaso laban kay Senator De Lima ay pawang gawa-gawa lamang ng mga taong tinakot at ginipit para gumawa ng kasinungalingan at palabasin na si Senator De Lima ay sangkot sa bentahan ng ilegal na droga,” he said in a statement.
“Lumalabas na ang totoo, kaya patuloy ang panawagan namin sa DOJ na muling suriin ang mga kasong isinampa nila laban kay Senator De Lima at tuluyan nang ibasura ito at palayain ang mahal nating Senadora,” he added.
De Lima has been detained since February 2017 on drug charges, which she called political persecution.
At least three other witnesses — Espinosa, former Bureau of Corrections OIC Rafael Ragos and former bodyguard Ronnie Dayan — have recanted their allegations against the senator.
On Monday, prosecution witness Joel Capones admitted in open court to not knowing nor having any transactions with De Lima, according to Tacardon.
When asked about the P1.5 million he allegedly saw the late convict Jaybee Sebastian give De Lima in 2012, Capones said, “Anong pera?”