SolGen to help CIDG appeal drug raps vs. Espinosa, Lim

MANILA Solicitor General Jose Calida said he would support officials of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) when they seek to reverse the dismissal of the drug complaint against businessman and suspected drug lord Peter Lim and his co-respondents.

"As 'Tribune of the People', the Office of the Solicitor General will be taking up the cudgels for PNP-CIDG in seeking to overturn the dismissal of the drug charges against Kerwin Espinosa and Peter Lim, Calida said in a series of tweets Thursday.

He said he believes the affidavits of Marcelo Adorco, a bodyguard of Espinosa, are "sufficient" for indictment on the determination of probable cause, as the respondent-witness is an "active participant and eyewitness" to the crime.

Uncorroborated testimony of a state witness may be sufficient when given in a straightforward manner, full of details which could not have been a result of deliberate afterthought, Calida explained.

The determination of the existence of probable cause is not concerned with the question of whether the offense charged has been or is being committed in fact, but only whether the affiant has reasonable grounds for his belief, he added.

Citing jurisprudence on the case of detained Senator Leila de Lima, Calida also raised that it was already settled that indicting on probable cause on drug trading cases does not need determination of "corpus delicti" (facts and circumstances).

"The 'how much' and 'how many' is an irrelevant factor, and not even an element of the crime under Section 26(b) of RA (Republic Act) 9165," he noted.

The panel of prosecutors that dismissed the drug complaint against suspected drug lord Peter Lim and his co-respondents insist the PNP had a weak case since only the inconsistent statements of one of the defendants were used as evidence.

Former Assistant State Prosecutor, now Lucena City Judge Aristotle Reyes, and Assistant State Prosecutor Michael John Humarang made the resolution that dismissed the complaint filed by the PNP-CIDG's Major Crimes Investigation Unit (MCIU) against Lim and his co-respondents for allegedly violating Section 26(b) in relation to Section 5 (Sale, Trading, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Distribution and Transportation of Dangerous Drugs and/or Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals) of RA 9165, also known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Apart from Lim, those who have been named as respondents in the complaint are arrested alleged drug dealer Marcelo Adorco, self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, convicted drug lord Peter Co, arrested alleged drug supplier Lovely Impal, Max Miro, Ruel Malindangan, Jun Pepito, and several others who are only known through the aliases Amang, Ricky, Warren, Tupie, Jojo, Jaime, Yawa, Lapi, Royroy, Marlon, and Bay. Adorco claims to be a close associate of Espinosa.

Contrary to the findings of the Department of Justice, CIDG chief Director Roel Obusan said the lone testimony of Adorco should have been sufficient for prosecutors to find probable cause, which is sufficient enough to take the case to court instead of dismissing it outright.

Obusan said they chose not to include Espinosa's admission before lawmakers in the charge sheet before prosecutors and instead rely on the testimony of Espinosa's aide, Marcelo Adorco, after the alleged kingpin of the drug trade in Eastern Visayas recanted his statements before the Senate.

On Wednesday, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II directed the NBI to determine possible misfeasance, malfeasance or non-feasance or other legal violations by the prosecutors who dismissed the case.

Aguirre also ordered the creation of another panel that will handle the motion for reconsideration filed by the CIDG.

The new panel is composed of Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, Assistant State Prosecutor Ana Noreen Devanadera and Prosecution Attorney Herbert Calvin Abugan, while Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon will act as Prosecutor General for the case.

Source: Philippine News Agency