DOJ Secretary: Kerwin almost sure to implicate De Lima

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre believes that alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa's testimony will deal the final blow in the case against Senator Leila De Lima.

In an interview on CNN Philippines' the Source, the Justice Secretary said that he is confident that the alleged drug lord's affidavit will implicate De Lima, just as his late father tagged the Senator as the top abettor of the country's illegal drug trade.

"Palagay ko it's almost sure," Aguirre said. "We read about it that there are two books; one pink and one blue. I think the pink is owned by the father, the blue by Kerwin. I was told they had the same contents cause whenever Kerwin adds any data in the list, he makes sure that the other list contains it."

Aguirre was referencing the pink and blue note books owned by the Espinosas. The notebooks are said to contain at least 226 names of personalities and high-ranking officials protecting the drug trade in the Philippines, including de Lima.

Aguirre believes the names in these notebooks will mirror those in Kerwin Espinosa's affidavit.

Kerwin's father, the late Mayor Rolando Espinosa, had earlier named De Lima as the number one protector of the drug trade in the Philippines. However, his affidavit was voided — as he is no longer around to testify to its veracity — following his death in an alleged jail shoot out.

Aguirre said that the DOJ-NBI is currently working with the Philippine National Police to secure Kerwin Espinosa's affidavit. Aguirre said that in light of his father's fate, the younger Espinosa is resolved to tell everything about the drug trade.

De Lima subpoena to be issued this week

Aguirre also said that a subpoena for Senator De Lima may be issued this week. The DOJ had four cases against De Lima, which it consolidated into a single case.

A five-man panel has been created to investigate the Senator, headed by Prosecutor Peter Ong.

Aguirre said that in order to curb allegations that he is interfering with the case, he has steered clear of the panel.

"Di na po kami nakialam diyan cause we might be accused again by some person na kahit yung work ng five-man panel pinakikialaman namin," he said.

[Translation: We don't meddle in the case anymore because we might be accused of interfering with the five-man panel. ]

However, he insists the evidence against the Senator is strong.

Aguirre cited the two National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) deliveries of P 5 million to de Lima's house and the inmate affidavits linking De Lima to drug money inside the New Bilibid Prison as key evidences in indicting her.

He added that these affidavits were further bolstered by De Lima's admission of her relationship with Dayan, her driver and alleged bagman for the drug money she pooled from the New Bilibid Prison to fund her 2016 Senatorial campaign.

"Once she admitted the relationship with Dayan, nag-iba because the probability to collect money ay talagang lumakas. Lumaki ang possibility," Aguirre said.

[Translation: Once she admitted the relationship with Dayan, things changed because it looked more likely that he was collecting money. The possibility got stronger.]

Aguirre said that they do not expect to find any bank accounts directly linking De Lima to drug money, as they expect De Lima would not use her own accounts for the transactions.

Instead, they are looking into accounts related to her, including that of several drug lords she may have had transactions with.

Aguirre also hit the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), which he said was withholding information on drug lord bank accounts from the NBI.

He hinted at two officials who were protecting De Lima because they were her fraternity brothers. He refused to name the two, but said he was considering filing cases against them

Kerwin to go under witness protection

For now, Aguirre said, the DOJ wants to make sure that Espinosa's affidavit is filed as soon as possible.

Once the affidavit has been filed, the DOJ can look into his application and determine if he is qualified for the Witness Protection Program (WPP).

Aguirre said that Espinosa is eligible to become a state witness as long as he is not "most guilty"- in this case, if he can pinpoint other officials as complicit in the drug trade as he is. 

"If there are other personalities as guilty as he is and- all other things being equal- if there are two or more person appearing to be guilty but one of them is a government official, the government official, according to a supreme court decision, will be most guilty," Aguirre said.