Kerwin claims de Lima sought protection money


ALLEGED drug kingpin Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr. on Wednesday claimed Sen. Leila de Lima had offered him protection in exchange for P8 million, which she received through her driver-bodyguard Ronnie Palisoc Dayan.

FACEOFF Senator Leila de Lima (left) attends the Senate inquiry into the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., facing off with the latter’s son Kerwin. PHOTO BY BOB DUNGO JR.

FACEOFF Senator Leila de Lima (left) attends the Senate inquiry into the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., facing off with the latter’s son Kerwin. PHOTO BY BOB DUNGO JR.

Espinosa testified before a Senate inquiry five days after being repatriated from the United Arab Emirates, where he fled after he and his slain father Rolando Sr. were linked by President Rodrigo Duterte to the illegal drug trade.

Espinosa told senators he gave de Lima, through Dayan, a total of P8 million in separate occasions between August 2015 and February 2016.

De Lima, a leading critic of the government’s war on drugs, had been accused by President Duterte of benefiting from the drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison, which the senator vehemently denies.

In his 27-page affidavit presented before the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, Espinosa narrated how he became acquainted with de Lima who was then the secretary of the Department of Justice, and ended coughing up P8 million for her senatorial campaign.

According to him, he was in Anilao, Batangas for a diving trip in August 2015 when he got a call from Albuera, Leyte police director Chief Insp. Jovie Espinido who said the driver-bodyguard of de Lima wanted to talk to him.
Espinosa said Dayan called three hours later and informed him de Lima needed funds for the 2016 election.

Espinosa said he then called another high-profile drug kingpin, Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz who was killed by police in June, to inquire about de Lima’s request. Diaz, he said, advised him to call Peter Co, a convicted drug lord detained at the Bilibid.

Co, who Espinosa said was his “boss,” said de Lima was safe to deal with but cautioned the transactions should be kept secret.

Two days later, Dayan again called Espinosa and the latter agreed to give a monthly “payola” to de Lima amounting to P700,000, and P2 million as “goodwill money.”

He said Dayan initially demanded P2 million monthly, but the amount went down to P700,000.

Espinosa said he first made the cash delivery in August 2015 at the parking building of the Mall of Asia in Pasay City. He said he was driving a black Toyota Fortuner.

Dayan, he said, instructed him to proceed to the fifth level of the parking building. He said he handed over cash amounting to P2 million, wrapped in a paper bag and placed inside a plastic bag.

The second delivery amounting to P1.7 million was made in the afternoon of October 2015 at one of the restaurants on Macapagal Avenue, Espinosa said.

Espinosa asked if he could meet de Lima personally, and Dayan agreed but said the meeting should be outside Manila.

Espinosa said he received another call from Dayan on November 2015 asking him to travel to Baguio City for the third delivery of cash and to meet de Lima.

That delivery, amounting to P2 million, happened between November 19 and 22.

“We shook hands and I whispered to her (de Lima) that the money was already with Dayan,” Espinosa said in Filipino.

The last delivery, he said, was done on February 1, 2016, when he handed P2.3 million to Dayan at the fourth floor of the parking building of the Mall of Asia.

Espinosa claimed his drug operations in Eastern Visayas went smoothly after his transactions with de Lima.
De Lima, who attended the inquiry, chose not to cross-examine Espinosa, saying it was “pointless, useless, futile” as Espinosa had a “very nice script.”

“I categorically, firmly, and absolutely deny having known Mr. Kerwin Espinosa. I do not remember any instance or occasion of having met him. I categorically, firmly, and absolutely deny having received any money, any cash from Mr. Kerwin Espinosa, either directly or indirectly through anyone else, in any occasion at any time, whether that money is supposedly for either protection or fund-raising for campaign expenses,” the embattled senator said.

“Final message to Mr. Kerwin Espinosa. I cannot talk to him directly, but may I just say this: May God forgive you for all your sins, and may God forgive you for all your lies about me. And I forgive you,” she added.


Political analyst Ramon Casiple said he found the testimony of Kerwin Espinosa “too perfect” and raised the possibility of a “deal” between Espinosa and the authorities.

“If you are very detailed in a specific story but vague in others, your memory is in question,” Casiple said in an interview.

Members of the Senate committee should be careful in handling the testimony of Espinosa, considering that a colleague, de Lima, was among those accused.


Please follow our commenting guidelines.


  1. its is like Alice through the looking glass “Curious and curious” How is it that the senator c an be sitting in the house–When she herself is under investigation ..coming from west –having been here ten yr –Married to a Filipino ..I am still confounded, as to why she has not been suspended..I am willing to take advice on this

    Dr David M Meyer (PhD Psych]

  2. When will Delima tell us why she visited the prison so many times to visit with convicts? Those visits tell us the story that Delima is involved in drugs. All of this testimony just confirms that.

  3. This is why we need to enact the Jury System consisting of the Grand Jury and Trial Jury. The Grand Jury, composed of 23 qualified private citizens shall ultra secretly investigate the commission of a serious crimes and their suspected offenders. Its proceeding is non-adversarial and if it finds probable cause that a crime suspect has committed the crime, it shall simply file secretly a criminal accusation in court against the crime suspect. The witnesses shall not also be known until they are called to testify at the trial. The only time the name of the crime suspect is known to the public is when he is already being tried before a trial jury of 12 qualified citizens.

    I already submitted to the draft, contained in a CD, of this proposed jury system law to the following dignitaries:

    1. President Duterte;
    2. Former President Fidel Ramos;
    3. Vice President Leni Robredo;
    4. Senator Sonny Trillianes;
    5. Senator Ralph Recto;
    6. Senator Francis Pangilinan;
    7. Senator Sherwin Gatchalian;
    8. Senator Leila De Lima;
    9. Senator Richard Gordon;
    10. Senator Risa Hontiveros;
    11. Senator Loren Legarda;
    12. Senator Paolo Aquino IV;
    13. Senator Joel Villanueva; and
    14. Senator Migz Zubiri.

    I also have written to Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno about this jury adoption recommendation.

    I respectfully urged them to confer and carefykkt study the proposed law. Enforcement of the rule of law in the Philippines is weak because the people are not given a deciding vote in justice. The people, although sovereign under Article II, Section 1, of the constitution, have instead become beggars of justice. The Judicial Branch is a lame duck government branch because it does not enjoy the voting support of the sovereign people. Instead the Judicial Branch and the court systems in the Philippines have been operated by the appointed adorable babies of the politicians and has become the maker of the untouchables of society.

    If we adopt the Grand Jury, it shall have the power to investigate and indict in court upon finding of probable cause any corrupt government official regardless of rank, power, authority, or title of nobility or royalty. The people shall become the primary enforcers of the rule of law.

    Had Senator De Lima instituted the Jury System during her term as Secretary of Justice, as suggested by this writer and his fellow jury advocates, she would not have succumb to her present predicament. Instead of studying carefully the merits of the proposed systems, she simply belittled the jury adoption proposal.

    Democracies with properly organized jury systems are politically and economically stable, progressive, and seldom suffer from dictatorship or martial law. Graft and corrupt is less pervasive than in countries with no jury systems. In a true democracy, its lifeblood are the people, not the politicians or oligarchs.

    For lack of participation of the people in the justice system of the Philippines, Philippine democracy is comatose at best.

  4. Noticed some senators were overly interest in how much Kerwin makes in the drug trade, repeatedly asking endless details about profits, expenses and campaign funding that put De Lima where she is now, a Senator and superior crook they secretly both envy and emulate to.

  5. Mr. Casiple stick to your day job, please don`t mixed up testimony of Espinosa unless you`re working part time job as spokesman for Ms. Delima.

    Then you have to quite your job from being a ‘POLITICAL ANALYST.’?

    Asked for any medical record that Espinosa if he is suffering from DEMENTIA still young to have that illness, I don`t think so he is suffering. I am in my late 40`s I can still remember things happening in the past. I don`t know about you Mr. Casiple, do you have DEMENTIA? just asking

  6. It’s some hard talaga. Be neutral for a start. Assume you”re a judge. – Convincingly and legal proof – is what is needed in a Western democracy, If no, the judge will set free.(even he’s suspicoious about the suspect) But it’s the law and that’s how it should be.