ALLEGED drug lord Rolando ‘Kerwin’ Espinosa entered a plea of not guilty during his arraignment yesterday morning at the Manila Regional Trial Court for violation of Section 5 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
He was in handcuffs and was wearing a bullet-proof vest when he arrived at around 9 a.m. at the court of MRTC Branch 26 presiding judge Silvino Pampilo, Jr., escorted by agents from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
The charges against Espinosa were originally filed in September last year at the Baybay City Regional Trial Court Branch 14 until it was ordered transferred to Manila by the Supreme Court based on a request from the prosecution and defense for security reasons.
On July 28, 2016, Espinosa’s men -- Marcelo Adorco, Jose Antepuesto, Jessie Ocarez, Ernesto Dumalat and Jeffrey Pesquera – were arrested in a police drug sting inside the house of Espinosa at Sitio Tinago, Barangay Binolho, Albuera town in Leyte. The five suspects allegedly yielded five sachets of shabu weighing 219.28 grams.
Espinosa said he was out of the country when the drug operation took place and claimed that the evidence against him was planted.
He and his father, Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., were named by President Rodrigo Duterte as bigtime drug lords. His father was killed in an alleged shootout with the police.
The pretrial of Espinosa was set on November 10.