Makati court junks drug case vs Kerwin Espinosa, Peter Co

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Kerwin Espinosa (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 29) — A local court dismissed the drug trafficking case against self-confessed drug dealer Rolan "Kerwin" Espinosa and his alleged cohorts for insufficient evidence.

In the decision released to the media on Wednesday, the Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 64 granted the demurrer to evidence filed by Espinosa, convicted drug lord Wu Tuan Yuan a.k.a. Peter Co, Lovely Impal, and witness Marcelo Adorco.

"Accordingly, for failure of the prosecution to adduce evidence to overturn the presumption of innocence enjoyed by the herein accused, the information in the above-titled case is hereby dismissed," the decision read.

The 13-page decision penned by Judge Gina Bibat-Palamos was promulgated on Dec. 17.

The court said the prosecution heavily relied on the sole testimony of Adorco, the witness who claimed to pick up and deliver methamphetamine hydrochloride, locally called shabu, for Espinosa.

Adorco said he was tasked by Espinosa to pick up drugs from Yuan, who then told him to get it from Impal, who was Yuan's alleged drug runner. He said five drug deals, including one in 2013 involving 20 kilograms of shabu, were transacted among the four of them.

The court noted that Adorco's statements were previously declared as inadmissible evidence since these were taken by police officers without a lawyer for the accused. The judge said the case cannot stand because it heavily banked on a single testimony.

"In this case, the purported participation of Impal, Espinosa, and Yuan in the alleged conspiracy was based solely on Adorco's recanted testimony which is not only untrustworthy but also inadmissible," Bibat-Palamos wrote.

The judge added, "...without Adorco's testimonies, the prosecution's case against the Espinosa group necessarily crumbles."

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday said he was "saddened" by the decision, but added he ordered the prosecutor general to exhaust all legal remedies, the first of which is to file an appeal.

He added the government is still tracking down another convicted drug lord, Peter Lim.

"Kerwin Espinosa is not off the hook yet; I understand that he is still facing an unfinished case before RTC-Manila and another drug case in Albuera, Leyte.... Sooner or later the long arm of the law will catch up with these people and they will answer for their crimes," he said in a message sent to reporters.

Espinosa confessed he was a drug dealer in Eastern Visayas, with Co as the first person inside the Bilibid to supply him with drugs. Lim is a Cebu-based businessman named by President Rodrigo Duterte as part of a Chinese triad leading illegal drug operations in the Visayas.