Hearing on drug raps vs Lim, Espinosa et al set Monday — DOJ

MANILA� The Department of Justice (DOJ) will start the preliminary investigation on the criminal charges filed by Philippine National Police against Cebu-based businessman Peter Lim and several others due to their alleged involvement in illegal drugs operations in Central and Eastern Visayas on Monday.

Assistant State Prosecutors John Michael Humarang and Aristotle Reyes will handle the preliminary probe of the case for violation of Section 26 (b) of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act set on Aug. 14 at 10 a.m.

Aside from Lim, Rolan "Kerwin" Espinosa, convicted drug lord Peter Co, a certain Marcelo L. Adorco, Max Miro, Lovely Adam Impal, Ruel Mangalindan and Jaime Jun Pepito, a village councilor in Albuera, Leyte also included as respondents in the complaint were individuals identified only by their aliases namely Jeremy aka Amang, Ricky,Warren,Tupie,Jojo,Yawa, Lapi, Royroy,Marlon, Bay,John Doe (alleged delivery man of Co), Peter Doe (alleged delivery man of Lim) and Robert Doe (also an alleged delivery man of Lim).

The said offense pertained to the sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals.

The complaint filed by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) tagged Lim as the alleged supplier of illegal drugs to the group of Espinosa.

The DOJ has already summoned the respondents to appear at the preliminary investigation slated to begin on August 14 and 17 where they will be given a chance to air their side.

In its July 5 complaint, the CIDG said Lim, along with his co-accused Co, who is currently detained in the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City on drug trafficking charges and Lovely Impal as among those who supplied illegal drugs to Espinosa's operation.

Investigation disclosed that the group of Espinosa also known as Boss K was a transporter, trader. Seller and distributor of illegal drugs (shabu) in some areas they controlled in Regions 7 and 8 (Bohol, Samar, Northern and Southern Leyte, Biliran and some parts of Cebu). Their group was being supplied with shabu for distribution and trading by Peter Co, Lovely Impal, Peter Go Lim among others,' part of the complaint said.

The CIDG secured a lead in its investigation with the arrest of Adorco and four other drug personalities during a sting operation in Albuera, Leyte, on July 8, 2016.

The police unit said Adorco identified Espinosa, who was supposedly also known as Boss K, and his father, slain Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., as the source of the illegal drugs and firearms seized from them.

It said the Espinosa Group was then getting its supplies of illicit drugs from Co, Impal and Lim for distribution in the provinces of Bohol, Samar, Northern Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran and Cebu.

Citing his judicial affidavit, the CIDG said Adorco clearly stated that Espinosa received 20 kilos of shabu from Co on Feb. 5, 2013, and a similar amount of illegal drugs from Lim just 11 days later.

It identified Lim along Co and Lovely Impal as among those who supplied illegal drugs to Espinosa's operation in Central and Eastern Visayas.

The filing of the case prompted Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to place them on immigration watchlist on July 11 to prevent Lim and his co-accused from leaving the country to evade prosecution.

Earlier, Aguirre said Espinosa can be discharged from the case to become a government's witness in the case.

The inclusion of Kerwin Espinosa in the criminal case, in the drug offense, can be discharged before the actual trial or even during the trial of the case. It is procedural in nature that he should be charged first and be discharged later as a state witness, Aguirre told reporters in a chance interview.

But Aguirre said the prosecutors handling the case will make the decision on the issue after reviewing and evaluating the evidence.

He said he could not say yet what testimony of Espinosa is of value to the prosecution.

I just would like to say that I don't want to go and state my definite decision on this because I might be the one to be called to make the final judgment. I'd better not answer that,' he added.

Lim who surrendered to President Duterte last year after his name was mentioned as among those behind the narcotics trade in the country denied any involvement in the illegal activity.

Espinosa is a son of late Albuera, Leyte mayor Rolando Espinosa who was allegedly involved in illegal drugs. The older Espinosa was killed by CIDG operatives last November 2016 inside a jail in Baybay, Leyte.

Adorco and Miro are known top aides of the Espinosas while Impal was identified by Kerwin as the supplier of illegal drugs in the Visayas.

Pepito, on the other hand, is one of Kerwin's men who would transport the drugs from Matnog , Sorsogon to Ormoc. Leyte.

Source: Philippine News Agency