SURIGAO del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers on Sunday challenged Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales to use her power to initiate an investigation into government officials involved in the illegal drug trade.
Barbers, chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs, called on the Office of the Ombudsman, especially Deputy Ombudsman for Visayas Paul Elmer Clemente, to investigate suspected drug lord Kerwin Espinosa of Albuera, Leyte, and those involved to the drug trade in the Visayas.
“I’ve heard that Kerwin, in his affidavit, has named several incumbent public officials and police officers who have been involved in the illicit drug trade. From there, the Ombudsman can start its motu proprio fact-finding probe. It should exercise its powers, or become a useless agency,” he said.
“Such [a document] is a welcome development. According to reports, Kerwin was considered the no. 2 personality in the distribution network of drugs in Eastern Visayas. He has now spilled the beans,” Barbers said, and urged the Ombudsman not to ignore the information coming from Espinosa.
Swift action from the Ombudsman would spare it from speculations that its officials were part of the drug problem, he added.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, for his part, vowed to deal seriously with lawmakers who are tagged by Espinosa.
He said he would immediately ask the House committee on rules chaired by Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas to help in the inquiry.
“We will welcome the revelation of Kerwin so that we will know who is betraying the country,” he said.
Barbers said Kerwin’s disclosure on his illegal drug operations would unmask narco-politicians and narco-generals.
Espinosa, son of the late Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., arrived in Manila on board PAL flight 657 from Abu Dhabi at 3:41 a.m. Friday after months of hiding.
President Rodrigo Duterte tagged the the Espinosas as being behind the proliferation of illegal drugs in Eastern Samar.
Espinosa Sr. and another drug suspect, Raul Yap, were killed in an alleged shootout after resisting arrest inside the Leyte’s Baybay sub-provincial jail on Nov. 4.
Senator Manny Pacquiao on Sunday said Kerwin Espinosa was ready to reveal the names of government officials involved in the drug business when he testifies before the Senate.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Senate public order committee which is investigating the circumstances surrounding Mayor Espinosa, said Kerwin will be summoned to attend the hearing either on Wednesday or Thursday this week.
Pacquiao, in an interview over radio dzBB, said Kerwin told him that since his father was deliberately killed while inside the sub-provincial jail in Baybay City, Leyte, he is ready to testify.
“He is willing,” said Pacquaio who was the first senator to visit Kerwin at Camp Crame.
While they do not personally know each other, the world boxing champion said Kerwin made a request that he talk to him.
“No, he said he just sees me on TV,” said Pacquiao when asked if they knew each other.
In a statement issued Sunday, Senator Leila De Lima said she would not like to preempt Kerwin’s testimony, but she believes he will just be another of the witnesses to be brought against her in their effort to destroy her.
“Be that as it may, I will be listening to Kerwin’s testimony, and let the people judge as to its credibility given the circumstances of the moment where drug lords and drug personalities left and right are being stabbed or killed whether they cooperate with the government or not,” she said.
She reminded Espinosa not to think that his “cooperation” will spare him his life.
“Sooner or later this government is going to make sure you end up like your father. I make the same prediction for Jaybee Sebastian,” said De Lima.
“As for the greatest mystery this government is trying to uncover, all this parade of witnesses has not proven a single thing, except its own deadly partnership with criminals and drug lords against me. It hasn’t shown a single [piece of] evidence of where the money is,” she said.
“Show us the money. I assure you there is none. No amount of browbeating the AMLC can make me a billionaire in its records overnight. In the meantime, maybe we should look at whose bank accounts are getting fatter as this great distraction of the stoning of De Lima is being performed to the delight of some of the public,” she added.
The former Justice secretary has consistently said she never got any drug money nor would she allow anybody to collect drug money in her behalf.
While confirming her previous “affair” with her former driver-bodyguard Ronnie Dayan, identified by President Duterte as her ‘bagman,’ De Lima maintained she was never involved in drugs.