MANILA The Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) deferred the arraignment of drug cases filed against self-confessed drug distributor Kerwin Espinosa, convicted drug lord Peter Co and several others.
Makati RTC Branch 64 Judge Gina M. Bibat-Palamos reset the arraignment, originally scheduled on Thursday, to Aug. 29 after lawyers of the accused said they will file a motion for reconsideration on the resolution of the panel.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed the cases after a reinvestigation it conducted to allow the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) the opportunity to submit additional evidence.
Espinosa, Co, Lovely Impal, Marcelo Adorco and Ruel Malindangan are facing charges for violation of Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act), particularly conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade, before the Makati RTC.
The arraignment will again be at the session hall of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa, where Co is serving a penalty of reclusion perpetua for another drug case.
The subject of the motion for reconsideration will be the resolution of the second panel of prosecutors that conducted a reinvestigation on the dismissal of drug case made by the first panel of prosecutors, which was created by then Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.
The complaint was filed by the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group. It was junked on Dec. 20, 2017. Then Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre created a second panel to reinvestigate the case.
Last July 19, the panel - composed of Senior Assistant Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, Assistant State Prosecutor Anna Noreen Devanadera and Prosecution Attorney Herbert Calvin Abugan - found probable cause to charge Espinosa, Co, Impal, and Malindagan for violation of Section 26 (B) in relation to Section 5, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Acts of 2002.
Navera said the panel gave weight to the testimonies of Adorco, Espinosa's driver, who identified all four as his cohorts, to charge them with conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade.
The panel also considered Espinosa's confession, admitting that he traded drugs in Region 7.
Espinosa is already facing other drug cases before the Manila RTC.
The DOJ stressed that contrary to the defense of Espinosa, who is already facing other drug cases before the Manila RTC, the confiscation or presence of the illegal drugs was not necessary to establish the criminal liabilities of respondents.
It explained that under RA 9165, conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading is an offense distinct from drug trading.
In our resolution, which speaks for itself, we explained that the gravamen of the offense in conspiracy is the conspiracy itself the agreement to engage in illegal drug trade. So there's really no need to present the drug itself and this has been explained by the Supreme Court...so we just took it from there based on the prevailing doctrine regarding the offense of conspiracy," Navera noted.
Source: Philippine News Agency