Lacson doubts Kerwin Espinosa's testimony: 'Many loose ends'

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson said the testimony of alleged Eastern Visayas drug lord Kerwin Espinosa lacks corroboration, describing it as having "many loose ends."

Lacson is the chairman of the Senate committee on public order leading the probe into the death of Espinosa's father, Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.

"We need more corroboration because of denials and testimony ng iba (of others), in the absence of any other corroborative [evidence] that would completely substantiate 'yung lahat ng ina-allege sa kanyang affidavit (all his allegations in his affidavit). So hindi pa gano'n ka-solid (It's not yet solid)," Lacson told reporters after a 9-hour hearing on Wednesday, November 23.

One big question, Lacson said, is how Espinosa came to know Ronnie Dayan, Senator Leila de Lima's former security aide and lover who supposedly served as her bagman when she was justice secretary. (READ: Kerwin Espinosa: I gave P8M to De Lima through Ronnie Dayan)

Espinosa said it was Albuera police chief Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido who called him to talk to Dayan. Espenido, however, denied it, saying he does not know Dayan.

"Just the aspect on how he got to contact Dayan. That's the loose end I'm seeing because if Espenido admitted that he was indeed the one who introduced Dayan to Kerwin, then the loose ends would be tied up. But because of the denial, it's not yet established how he was able to contact Dayan. Through whom? How?" Lacson said in a mix of Filipino and English.

Dayan on Tuesday, just hours after he was arrested in La Union, claimed he received money for De Lima from Espinosa – something that De Lima repeatedly denied.

Another issue for Lacson is the contradicting claims of Espinosa and Dayan on the money supposedly given to the senator.

"We saw Dayan make his statement last night without hearing Espinosa. Sinabi naman talaga niya na kinumpirma on several occasions, iyon lang year ang nagkakaiba, 2014, eto 2015,'" he said.

(We saw Dayan make his statement last night without hearing Espinosa. He really said, confirmed that on several occasions, but the years they gave are different – 2014, the other 2015.)

"Kung ako ang imbestigador, I would like to find out kung ano ba talaga ang totoo. Kung objectively titignan mo, hindi talaga solid as it was presented by Kerwin," Lacson added.

(If I were the investigator, I would like to find out what's really the truth. If you look at it objectively, the evidence as presented by Kerwin is really not solid.)

No to Espinosa as state witness

Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II earlier said they favored making Espinosa a state witness, with the former even saying he is the "missing piece" in the illegal drug trade puzzle.

Lacson, however, thinks Espinosa should not be turned into a state witness this early. He is, after all, one of the most guilty in the crimes committeed, the senator said.

"If I will be asked, hindi ako sang-ayon na ibigay kaagad sa kanya ang pagiging state witness unless talagang material ang kanyang magiging testimonya at hindi siya most guilty, but as it appears now sa grupong andito pa lamang, 'yung guilt nya mataas eh," the senator said.

(If I will be asked, I am not in favor of turning him into a state witness that easily unless his testimony would be material and he is not the most guilty. But as it appears now, in the group presented to us, his guilt is strong.)

Lacson pointed out it was Espinosa who actually gave money to policemen and politicians, in exchange for protection.

The senator said there might be another hearing to tie up the loose ends, but there's no definite date yet.

Depending on Dayan's testimony during the House probe on Thursday, November 24, Lacson said they might still invite him to the Senate. –

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.