MANILA - Self-confessed illegal drug distributor Kerwin Espinosa on Friday pleaded not guilty to trading and distribution of illegal drugs during his arraignment at a local court.
Espinosa, son of slain Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., was charged with violating Section 5 Article 2 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act (Republic Act 9165) after a police raid in his home last year yielded several grams of illegal drugs.
He and his father were tagged by President Rodrigo Duterte as big players behind the proliferation of illegal drugs in Eastern Visayas.
Last year, the younger Espinosa admitted to lawmakers investigating his father's death in a jail cell that he runs a drug syndicate allegedly protected by several officials and lawmen on his payroll.
The case arraigned Friday stemmed from the sting operation in his home on July 28 last year, where five of his supposed cohorts and bodyguards were arrested.
The complaint had alleged Espinosa and his father "engage in the trading and/or distributing of dangerous drugs through phone calls and/or personal transactions with their suppliers to acquire stocks of dangerous drug particularly methamphetamine hydrochloride or locally known as shabu."
These drugs, it said, were distributed to their "employees," namely Marcelo Adorco, Jose Antepuesto, Jessie Ocarez, Ernest Dumalat, and Jeffrey Pesquetera, "with an order or command...to sell 'shabu' distributed to them to any interested buyers."
However, Espinosa said he could not have committed the crime then because he was already out of the country.
Espinosa returned to the Philippines on November 18 after he was arrested in Abu Dhabi.