Press Release
January 2, 2022

De Lima to DOJ: Always 'flex long arm of law' on real criminals

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima maintained that the recent dismissal of a drug trafficking case against Kerwin Espinosa, Peter Co, and two others should serve as a reminder for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prosecute real criminals and stop wasting its energy filing bogus charges against political opposition like her.

De Lima, the most prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, maintained that selective prosecutions could end up with innocent people suffering.

"I can understand the frustration of the current SOJ (Secretary of Justice) when he remarked that 'sooner or later the long arm of the law will catch up with these people and they will answer for their crimes,'" she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 1196.

"I fully concur. But Aguirre's DOJ should have displayed the same vigor exhibited in running after me in pursuing these cases vs. Espinosa, et. al. With their misplaced zeal and wrongful prosecution of an innocent target, rule of law and suffer. An innocent suffers while the real guilty malefactors benefit therefrom," she added.

De Lima further said: "It will serve the DOJ well to remember to flex the long arm of the law more often against the real criminals, rather than the strong hand of the state against the political opposition."

In a 13-page order dated Dec. 17, the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 64, through Judge Gina M. Bibat-Palamos, reportedly granted the demurrers to evidence filed by the accused as the court cited the prosecution's failure "to adduce evidence to overturn the presumption of innocence enjoyed by the herein accused."

Aside from Espinosa and Co, the court also granted the demurrers to evidence of co-accused Lovely A. Impal and witness Marcelo L. Adorco. The demurrers stated that the prosecution has not presented other evidence aside from Adorco's testimony to prove their case.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he has ordered Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento to contest the decision of the Makati RTC Branch 64 to dismiss the drug case against the four, adding that he is "saddened by this development."

De Lima said she does not know the merits or the lack thereof of the drug cases against Espinosa and his co-accused in said case, but if there's one thing's she's sure of, it is that the DOJ under SOJ Aguirre had to use characters such as Kerwin Espinosa to falsely implicate her in the drug trade.

"That was all they cared for and what mattered to them. Kailangan nilang gumamit ng mga yan para idamay ako. It didn't matter to them that the charges against them would stick as long as there's something they could use in their demolition job against me," she said.

Espinosa and Co, a convicted drug lord serving time at the New Bilibid Prison, falsely testified separately in congressional hearings that De Lima was part of the illegal drug trade at the NBP when she was Justice Secretary during the Aquino administration.

In a Senate hearing in November 2016, Espinosa claimed that he gave De Lima a total of P8 million for her senatorial campaign through her former driver/security Ronnie Dayan - a detail that De Lima vehemently and consistently denied.

It can be recalled that the CIDG earlier revealed that Espinosa recanted already his previous testimony at the Senate, making De Lima question his inclusion in the Witness Protection Program of the government.

"Necessarily and logically, such a fictional tale having been disowned, it would appear that Kerwin's entire testimony before the Senate was under duress," De Lima said in an earlier Dispatch from Crame No. 282 last April 23, 2018.

In the same Dispatch, De Lima also stressed that: "Let's not forget also Marcelo Adorco's own admission (as told to investigative journalist Nancy Carvajal in an interview) that he was coached into pinning me down."

Ultimately, the lady Senator from Bicol maintained that the DOJ can start getting convictions against the real drug lords "the moment it stops wasting its energy on my selective prosecution."

De Lima remains detained over trumped-up drug charges filed against her by the Duterte government. Muntinlupa RTC, Branch 205 earlier granted her demurrer to evidence in Case Number 17-166, marking her acquittal in one of the three cases which she called a "moral victory."

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