Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals revives 2 cases against Kerwin Espinosa

Jairo Bolledo

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Court of Appeals revives 2 cases against Kerwin Espinosa

DRUG CHARGES. File photo of Kerwin Espinosa.

Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Espinosa walked free from detention last year after posting bail in his remaining criminal cases, sources tell Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) ordered the revival of two cases against alleged drug lord Rolan “Kerwin” Espinosa.

The CA granted the prosecution’s petition for certiorari – legal remedy used to review another body’s decision – and set aside the lower court’s ruling in two of three cases against Espinosa in Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 26. The two cases were illegal possession of dangerous drugs and illegal possession of firearms.

The appellate court’s ruling effectively remanded the two cases back to court, which means these cases will be reopened and will undergo trial anew.

“The Court finds some merit in this petition because there is adequate showing that the prosecution was denied due process to fully present its evidence in Criminal Case Nos. R-MNL-17-04240-CR and R MNL-17- 04241-CR,” the CA said.

Originally, Espinosa faced three criminal charges in the said Manila court: illegal sale and distribution of dangerous drugs, illegal possession of dangerous drugs, and illegal possession of firearms. In 2020, then-Manila RTC Branch 26 Presiding Judge Silvino Pampilo Jr. acquitted Espinosa of the two drug charges, but convicted him of the illegal possession of firearms.

The prosecution appealed the ruling. In March 2022, Acting Presiding Judge John Benedict Medina denied the prosecutors’ motion for reconsideration, which prompted them to bring the case to the appellate court.

Since the CA did not revive the illegal sale and distribution of dangerous drugs case against Espinosa in its decision, the lower court’s acquittal in the said case still stands.

A string of victories

Espinosa was able to secure successive acquittals in the last years. Aside from his 2020 acquittal, which was the subject of the CA ruling, Makati RTC Branch 64 also dismissed illegal drug trafficking charges against Espinosa in 2021 due to lack of evidence.

In 2023 alone, Espinosa scored three court victories. He was acquitted in June 2023 in a drug trade charge after Makati RTC Branch 65 granted his demurrer to evidence. When granted, demurrer to evidence has the same effect as acquittal. Manila RTC Branch 16 also cleared Espinosa in his illegal possession of firearms and explosives charge in September 2023.

Court of Appeals revives 2 cases against Kerwin Espinosa

Espinosa’s third legal victory came on December 13, 2023, when Manila RTC Branch 51 granted his demurrer to evidence in another drug case.

So far, Espinosa’s pending cases are the two money laundering cases pending before Pasay courts, one drug case pending in Baybay, Leyte, and the two cases revived by the CA.

A source told Rappler that Espinosa walked free from detention on December 29, 2023, after posting bail. The source also said that the alleged drug lord posted bail worth P600,000 for for the drug case in Leyte, while around P12 million for the money laundering cases.

Bureau of Jail Management and Penology spokesperson Jail Chief Inspector Jayrex Bustinera confirmed Espinosa’s release.

“Anyway, for our part we’ll comply if ever there is new court order for him to be remanded to BJMP,” he added. –

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.