DOJ prosecutors to file drug charges vs. Kerwin Espinosa, others

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 19) — Prosecutors of the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday found probable cause to charge alleged drug lords earlier cleared by a separate panel.

The Office of the Prosecutor General said self-confessed drug dealer Kerwin Espinosa, convicted drug lord Peter Co, and three other suspects should be charged for conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading, a violation of RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

"Espinosa, Co and the other respondents will be charged before the Regional Trial Court of Makati City," the DOJ said in a statement.

State prosecutors found as sufficient lone witness' Marcelo Adorco's testimony that Espinosa, Co, along with Lovely Impal, and Ruel Malindagan were his cohorts in selling and distributing drugs in the Visayas.

"The panel similarly relied on the confession of respondent Kerwin Espinosa that he traded in drugs during the relevant periods as distributor in Regions 7 and 8," the DOJ said in a statement.

The first panel earlier dropped the charges against the suspects for lack of evidence, saying Adorco's statements were "rife with inconsistencies and contradictions." This move put the department in hot water.

Police chief Dir. Gen. Oscar Albayalde welcomed the development in the case.

"The CIDG case build-up was consistent from the start. There was damning evidence to indict Kerwin, et al for the crime," Albayalde said in a statement.

He also assured that the police will fully cooperate with the Justice Department to establish a strong case against the respondents.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also said the Palace "is very pleased that the wheels of justice are turning to hold them accountable."

President Rodrigo Duterte himself questioned why the case against Espinosa was dismissed when Espinosa personally admitted he was involved in the Eastern Visayas drug trade.

Vitaliano Aguirre has since resigned from his post after ordering a reinvestigation. He was replaced by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

Meanwhile, the DOJ clarifies its latest resolution does not include Cebu-based businessman Peter Lim, who was among the accused in the original complaint filed by the police. His case is pending after the DOJ granted his motion for a separate preliminary investigation.

READ: Suspected drug lords Peter Lim, Kerwin Espinosa: What we know so far  

The charges against three other respondents were dismissed upon their deaths recently, the DOJ said.