SUSPECTED drug kingpin Kerwin Espinosa allegedly gave former Justice secretary Leila de Lima a total of P8 million in exchange for protection, Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao claimed on Tuesday.
Pacquiao, who met Espinosa at the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame last week, said the latter admitted to personally meeting de Lima and her driver-bodyguard Ronnie Dayan in Baguio City.
“He told me that he gave de Lima a total of P8 million,” said Pacquiao in Filipino.
Espinosa, Pacquiao claimed, allegedly received a call from someone who introduced himself as an aide of de Lima. The caller supposedly warned Espinosa that he would get in trouble if he did not accept the offer of protection.
Pacquiao identified the aide who contacted Espinosa as Dayan. Dayan also arranged the meeting between Espinosa and de Lima in Baguio City, he said.
“Then they meet there, he met de Lima and Dayan told him: ‘Now you know who is giving me orders,’” Pacquiao added.
Espinosa, Pacquiao said, also revealed that he and de Lima often transacted at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City. The P8 million was given in installments, Pacquiao said.
De Lima for her part denied the allegations and insisted that she never received a single centavo from Espinosa, directly or indirectly.
She also denied ordering someone to meet and negotiate with Espinosa to demand “protection money,” saying she did not even know the latter.
“These are all lies,” said de Lima in a separate interview.
CIDG official on the take?
Apart from the de Lima, Espinosa also mentioned the chief of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Eastern Visayas, Marvin Marcos, as among those who had received drug money.
Marcos supposedly used the money for the election campaign of his wife, who ran for vice mayor of Pastrana, Leyte.
According to Pacquiao, Marcos initially asked for P3 million, but was declined because the amount was too high.
Marcos then agreed to bring the amount down to P2.5 million, and got P1.5 million as initial payment, Pacquiao said.
Espinosa also told Pacquiao it was his father, the late Albuera, Leyte mayor Rolando Espinosa, who gave the money to Marcos.
Marcos was with the CIDG team that killed Mayor Espinosa in a supposed raid inside his detention cell in Leyte last November 5.
Pacquiao said he was convinced the late mayor was murdered because he had executed an affidavit that revealed the names of those involved in illegal drug operations.
Kerwin Espinosa is scheduled to appear before the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs today, and is expected to reveal the names of government and police officials who have benefited from illegal drug operations.
The Espinosas were linked by President Rodrigo Duterte to illegal drugs in August. Rolando turned himself over to the PNP and was later arrested for illegal possession of drugs and firearms.
Kerwin fled to the United Arab Emirates but was nabbed by authorities and brought to Manila on Friday.