DOJ SECRETARY AGUIRRE ADMITS
The “Peter Lim” alluded to in President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug matrix is dead.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Friday revealed that the Peter “Jaguar” Lim who is listed as one of the top drug lords in the country referred to slain drug lord Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz, and not the prominent Cebuano businessman Peter Lim.
Jaguar, Central Visayas’ top drug personality, was gunned down by police in Las Piñas City last June 17, two weeks before President Duterte assumed his post.
Responding to queries from reporters, Aguirre admitted that there was a mistake in the July drug matrix released by the President.
“Baka mali ang pagkasabi (sa drug matrix) kasi talagang patay na (Perhaps there was a mistake made in the drug matrix because he is dead). During the time when the drug matrix came out, talagang patay na si Jaguar kasi it happened noon pang June 19, before the President assumed office,” he said in a press conference aired over GMA News Online.
(When the drug matrix came out, Jaguar was already dead because it happened on June 19, even before the President assumed office.)
President Duterte earlier revealed the names of three big-time drug lords in the country: Wu Tuan alias Peter Co, Herbert Colangco alias Ampang and Peter Lim alias Jaguar.
Lim, according to the President, was operating in the Visayas.
Aguirre said a cousin of Jaguar, Reynaldo “Jumbo” Diaz, who surrendered to authorities after the drug lord was killed, confirmed that Jeffrey Diaz was the real Jaguar. Jumbo was arrested by police in Matnog town of Sorsogon last Sept. 17 in the company of six armed personnel of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Police nabbed Jumbo due to pending warrants of arrest for violation of Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002) issued by a Cebu City court and for frustrated murder cases pending in Nueva Ecija province.
Police said Reynaldo had taken over the operations of Jaguar after the latter’s death in June.
But Aguirre later clarified that Jumbo was a state witness under the DOJ’s Witness Protection Program (WPP).
But is Cebu’s Peter Lim off the hook?
Aguirre said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will continue investigating the businessman to find out if he is also into illegal drugs.
“Maaaring kapangalan lang niya pero drug lord din siya (There’s a possibility that they have the same name but he’s also a drug lord),” he said.
Lim’s Cebu-based lawyer Pedro Leslie Salva was overjoyed when he learned that his client was not the same person on the drug matrix earlier shown by President Duterte.
“Very good,” he exclaimed while talking to CDN over the phone yesterday.
“I knew from that (sic) start that the truth will set us free. I pity his family. It’s definitely not easy to be accused of something you never committed,” he added.
Even if Lim is off the drug matrix, Salva said he would not mind if the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) would continue its investigation against the Cebuano businessman.
“They (NBI) can proceed if they want to. We are not hiding anything,” he said.
“I know Peter Lim for more than 20 years. I would have known if he’s into illegal drugs. As far as I know, Mr. Lim is a legitimate businessman. And I can vouch for his innocence.”
Salva clarified that Lim has not left the country since the businessman met with President Rodrigo Duterte last July 15, contrary to reports posted online.
“He is in Cebu, and he never travelled abroad (since he met with President Duterte),” he said.
Cebu Daily News went to Lim’s office at Hilton Heavy Industries in Subangdaku, Mandaue City yesterday, but the businessman wasn’t around.
His secretary said Lim was attending a birthday and will commemorate today his mother’s death anniversary.
Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, director of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas, was tight-lipped about Secretary Aguirre’s pronouncement, saying, “Pasensya na. (Please bear with me). I can’t confirm the information because it’s the national government which is validating and conducting an investigation,” he said in a text message to CDN.
On rumors that the drug suspect killed in Las Piñas City last June 17 was not Jaguar, Taliño said there’s no truth to it.
“Those are just information to mislead the public. Kung may magpapatunay na hindi pala si Jaguar yong namatay, we can conduct further investigation. (If someone can provide sufficient evidence to prove that the person killed was not Jaguar, we can conduct further investigation),” said Taliño, who assumed as PRO-7 director last July 4.
Yogi Filemon Ruiz, director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA-7), begged off from issuing any statement on Secretary Aguirre’s pronouncements.
“No comment for now. I have yet to listen or read the context of his (Aguirre) statements,” he told CDN over the phone.
Last July 28, in an interview over ABS-CBN’s late evening newscast “Bandila,” Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency director general Isidro Lapeña said Cebu’s Peter Lim was in their target list.
But Lapeña said they could not arrest Lim since there was no existing arrest warrant issued against the businessman.
Lim personally met with President Duterte in Davao City last July 15 to clear his name amid allegations that he was one of the three big-time drug lords in the country.
He denied that he was the alleged Chinese-Filipino drug dealer alluded to in police intelligence reports.
On July 21, Lim also appeared before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Manila as advised by President Duterte.
Lim, 69, was the same person that the House of Representatives committee on dangerous drugs investigated in 2001 for the same allegations. But the committee found no sufficient evidence to prove their accusations.