MANILA - Detained Sen. Leila de Lima on Wednesday said the dismissal of drug charges against Kerwin Espinosa, Peter Lim, and 20 others strengthens her claim that she has no links to drug syndicates and was detained only due to political persecution.
Espinosa earlier told senators that De Lima is linked to his illegal drug operations. He also claimed he earned P50 million yearly in the illegal drug trade while giving out P20 million in protection money to individuals linked to his illegal drug network.
A Department of Justice (DOJ) resolution made public on Monday showed that Espinosa and other alleged drug kingpins were cleared of narcotics-related allegations due to lack of evidence.
"Ngayon nga pong inabswelto ng DOJ sina Peter Lim, Kerwin Espinosa, Peter Co at iba pang sangkot sa ilegal na droga, lalong napapagtibay ang aking pagiging inosente," De Lima said in a statement.
(The junking of cases against Peter Lim, Kerwin Espinosa, Peter Co and others involved in the illegal drug trade strengthens my claim that I am innocent.)
De Lima had repeatedly dismissed drug-related cases filed against her as political persecution.
Her legal counsel, former solicitor general Florin Hilbay, earlier said the scrapping of charges against Espinosa and his cohorts may be seen as a reward for implicating De Lima in their drug operations.
"Anyone who looks at the case [can see that] if you are willing to implicate an enemy of the government, even if you have charges against you, even if you have publicly admitted that you are a drug lord, those cases that have been filed by the government against you...will be dismissed," Hilbay said in an interview on ANC's Top Story, Tuesday.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the charges were dropped because the Philippine National Police - Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) did not include Espinosa's confession in the Senate in the case it filed.
Aguirre said the DOJ would review the decision and investigate prosecutors that handled the case against Espinosa and other drug lords.
Despite the government's attempt to reverse the initial junking of the case, De Lima slammed the government for allegedly trying to hide the dismissal of the charges. The decision was released in December 2017 but was only made public earlier this week.
"It’s either they were hiding it because they were complicit in the deal with the drug lords or they are so incompetent as to be completely ignorant of the dismissal a full three months after the fact," De Lima said
"It should be clear by now that Duterte’s drug war is a big joke, except that the thousands killed in its name are not laughing because they are all dead," she added.