Kerwin convicted of gun ban violation
A Cebu City judge has convicted self-confessed drug lord Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr. of violating the 2010 election gun ban.
Espinosa was meted a penalty of one year imprisonment by Judge Generosa Labra of the Regional Trial Court in Cebu City on Monday morning.
He was, however, cleared of illegal possession of firearms.
Wearing a bulletproof vest, Espinosa arrived at the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) early morning Monday, escorted by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
He was brought to the Cebu City Hall of Justice for the promulgation of his case at around 10 a.m.
Interviewed by reporters after the proceedings, Espinosa’s lawyer Jonnah John Ungab said they were nonetheless happy with the outcome of the cases although his client was convicted on one charge.
“We’re relieved. At least, we secured an acquittal,” he said.
Ungab said another hearing was set in Manila on Wednesday for the other case against Espinosa involving illegal drugs.
NBI-7 Director Patricio Bernales said Espinosa was flown back to Manila after the proceedings.
Espinosa, who was publicly named by President Rodrigo Duterte as among the country’s biggest drug lords, has been under the custody of the NBI since his arrest in Abu Dhabi on October 17, 2016.
Bernales said Espinosa was already informed about the death of Ungab who was shot twice by still unknown assailants in front of the Cebu City Hall of Justice an hour after the verdict on Espinosa’s cases were read.
In her decision, Judge Labra said Espinosa failed to secure an authorization from the Commission on Elections for him to carry firearms during the election period in 2010.
The accused, however, managed to prove that his gun was licensed, hence the dismissal of the case of illegal possession of firearms against him.
“Not only was it admitted by the prosecution that Espinosa is a licensed holder of the subject firearm and ammunitions but the accused also presented a certification issued by the Fessags (Firearms Explosives Security Service Agency and Guards Supervisory Section) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) showing that the accused is on the list of approved applications to possess the subject firearm and ammunition,” Labra said.
“Accused, however, admitted that he has not secured exemption from the Comelec gun ban,” she added.
The cases stemmed from a police operation in Barangay Duljo-Fatima in Cebu City where Espinosa was arrested in possession of a Norinco 45 caliber pistol on March 4, 2010.
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