Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said that there is a possibility to grant Eastern Visayas drug lord Kerwin Espinosa legal immunity as part of the Department of Justice’s Witness Protection Program if his testimonies will pass the WPP’s assessment.
Aguirre told reporters after the announcement of Espinosa’s arrest in Abu Dhabi that this will have room for consideration because he is one of the possible witnesses that can tell them more about the illegal drug trade in the Philippines.
He further revealed that the immunity that will be granted to Espinosa would be quite complicated because they don’t know if this will include Espinosa’s testimony about his involvement in illegal drugs or the case that is being built up by the government against Senator Leila De Lima.
Senator Leila De Lima had been allegedly protecting drug syndicates in the New Bilibid Prison when she was serving as the justice secretary.
Espinosa has already been facing numerous cases in court including illegal possession of firearms under Baybay, Leyte Regional Trial Court Branch 14 and a drug complaint in the Office of the Ombudsman, in which De Lima and a barangay kagawad are co-respondents.
The complaint stated that Kevin Espinosa, Kerwin’s brother, allegedly met up with De Lima’s driver Ronnie Dayan early this year to give him two bags containing P4 million each. This money was allegedly used for De Lima’s senatorial campaign.
There had also been a photo of Kerwin and De Lima together that had been surfacing in the media but de Lima denied being associated with or knowing Kerwin and accused the government of fabricating evidences in order to press charges against her.
Presently, De Lima along with several individuals are facing two drug trafficking complaints that are subject for preliminary investigation in the DOJ before it will be forwarded to the Ombudsman.
Meanwhile, Philippine Ambassador to UA Constancio Vingno said that UAE authorities in Abu Dhabi still need to conduct their own investigation on Espinosa before he can be turned over to Philippine authorities.
Espinosa will undergo an interrogation by Abu Dhabi police in order to know who helped him enter the country, who owns the place where he stayed, and whether he was planning to expand his illegal drug activities to the UAE.
It would also be another case if it is proven that Espinosa conducted illegal drug activities while he was in Abu Dhabi. In that case, he would have to settle his case in UAE first before he can be allowed to go back to the Philippines where he will also face charges and answer questions about his connections to the drug activities in PH and his illegal possession of firearms case.
According to Vingno, Espinosa did not enter UAE with a false identity but used his own passport instead.
The Philippine Ambassador to UAE also added that Espinosa arrived in Dubai in the third week of September. He allegedly traveled backdoor, passing through Palawan in order to enter Kuala Lumpur where he caught a flight to Hong Kong, obtained his UAE visa, flew to Dubai, and finally travelled to Abu Dhabi where some of his friends were staying.