Court drops drug trafficking case vs Kerwin Espinosa

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 8) — A Makati court has acquitted self-confessed drug lord Rolan "Kerwin" Espinosa of drug trafficking charges after prosecutors failed to provide enough evidence against him.

Espinosa and his co-accused Marcelo Adorco were cleared through a demurrer to evidence grant, which amounts to an acquittal.

"Wherefore, in view of the foregoing, the Demurrer to Evidence filed by both accused are hereby granted. Accordingly, Rolan E. Espinosa and Marcelo L. Adorco are hereby acquitted of the offense charged on reasonable doubt. They are ordered immediately released from detention unless they are confined for any other lawful cause,” Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 65 ruled in a 21-page decision dated June 6 but publicized on Thursday.

Espinosa, however, will remain in detention as he still faces charges in two other courts, his lawyer Raymund Palad said.

Espinosa and Adorco were charged with violation of Section 26 (b) in relation to Section 5, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, which penalizes the attempt or conspiracy to commit illegal trading of dangerous drugs.

They were accused of conspiring and committing trafficking of some 50 kilograms of methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu" in Makati City on June 7, 2015.

"In this case, the evidence of the prosecution failed to prove the elements of the offense to sustain a conviction beyond reasonable doubt," the court's decision read.

"The testimonies of the prosecution witnesses on the commission of the alleged conspiracy to commit illegal trading of dangerous drugs have no probative value for being hearsay," it added.

Espinosa has been cleared of drug trafficking charges twice, most recently in 2021, when Makati City RTC Branch 64 rejected the charges due to a lack of evidence. He was acquitted in the case also on the basis of a demurrer. 

Six years after testifying before the Senate against detained former Senator Leila De Lima, Espinosa in 2022 retracted his allegations against her and her involvement in the illegal drug trade, saying he invented his stories of their dealings because police threatened him.

De Lima on Wednesday was denied bail on her third and last drug case.