PNP to insist on drug raps vs. Espinosa, Lim

MANILA The Philippine National Police (PNP) has filed an appeal on the Department of Justice's (DOJ) decision clearing Roland 'Kerwin' Espinosa Jr. and Peter Lim of drug charges.

"It's on appeal. Nag-file tayo ng motion for reconsideration sapag-junk nila sa kaso ni Peter Lim at Kerwin Espinosa (We filed a motion for reconsideration on the junking of the charges against Peter Lim and Kerwin Esponosa. We will use all our legal remedies na mapapanagot natin sila so naka-MR yan saprosecution (to prosecute them and that is included in the MR for the prosecution)," PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa said in a press briefing Monday.

PNP spokesman Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, meanwhile, said concerned officials of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) have met with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II regarding the automatic review of the case.

"Immediately nakipag-usap sila, yung director ng CIDG kay (SOJ Aguirre) para magkaroon ng automatic review dun sa kaso na yun at ito namang ating mga investigations at sakalegal teams ng PNP ay mag-identify ng mga additional witnesses and are gathering pieces of evidence para mai-file yung, ma-refile yung kaso (Immediately, the CIDG director met with SOJ Aguirre for the automatic review of the case and now, our investigations and the legal teams of the PNP will identify additional witnesses and are gathering pieces of evidence for the re-filing of the case) ," Bulalacao told reporters Tuesday.

"This is just a temporary setback which saddened us but just the same, we will pursue this case because we know that this is a major campaign of the government. These people are primary players and high value targets on illegal drugs so we have to find a way to resolve this case, as much as possible, to convict them," he added.

Kerwin, son of slain Albuera, Leyte Mayor Ronaldo Espinosa Sr., was the alleged source of drug trade in the Eastern Visayas. He was arrested by the police in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) after Filipinos working in Abu Dhabi saw and reported his presence.

The PNP earlier said drug lord Peter Co, who is detained at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) was the source of Espinosa's drug supply.

Dela Rosa, meanwhile, said witnesses who may be affected by Republic Act (RA) 10973 which gives subpoena powers to the PNP have nothing to worry about, noting that the government's witness protection program would provide adequate safeguards for them.

"Meron naman tayong Witness Protection Program. Pwede naman silang i-process ng CIDG, mag-apply ng witness protection program (We have a Witness Protection Program. They can undergo processing by the CIDG for them to able to apply for the Witness Protection Program)," dela Rosa added.

The Witness Benefits, Security and Protection Program is run by the DOJ for qualified witnesses.

Under RA 10973, the PNP chief and the two highest officials of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) may hand down subpoenas for documents from witnesses.

The PNP chief clarified that the subpoena powers have no use in the ongoing anti-drug campaign of the PNP.

"I don't think kailangan natin ng subpoena powers para sa (Oplan) Tokhang. Knock and plead lang naman ito, hindi naman tayo nag-iimbestiga. (I don't think the subpoena powers will be needed for Oplan Tokhang. This is just knocking and pleading. We are not investigatng.) We are appealing from them to stop their illegal drug activities. We are not compelling them. Pakiusap nga eh (It is just a request)," dela Rosa noted.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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