DOJ ORDERS CIDG
The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday directed the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to bring a key witness in the drug trafficking charges against alleged drug triad boss Peter Lim, a Cebuano businessman, and several others at the preliminary investigation of the case.
At the resumption of the hearing, the counsels of Lim and the CIDG engaged in a heated exchange after CIDG lawyer Joseph Orsos told the DOJ panel of prosecutors that witness Marcelo Adorco would submit a “supplemental affidavit.”
Adorco, an alleged henchman of self-confessed Cebuano drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, has been under the custody of the police in Leyte.
Citing logistical limitations, Orsos asked the DOJ panel, composed of Assistant State Prosecutors Aristotle Reyes and John Michael Humarang, to allow Adorco to sign his affidavit before a state prosecutor in Leyte.
But the CIDG admitted that the document is still being prepared.
Lawyer Magilyn Loja, Lim’s counsel, opposed Orsos’ manifestation.
She branded as “highly irregular” the move of the CIDG to have its witness sworn to an affidavit “that does not even exist.”
“They are asking that Adorco subscribe to a document that does not yet exist. This is highly irregular,” said Loja as she pointed out that the police should provide them and the prosecutors with a copy of the document that Adorco will subscribe to.
“They are doing this for convenience because Adorco will be going back to Leyte,” she added.
“Pa’no masasabi ng panel na voluntary ang execution ng document, na naiintindihan niya ang contents ng document kung hindi pa existing yung document? That is not proper,” she told reporters.
(How can you say that the execution of the document was voluntary, that he fully understands the contents of the document if it does not yet exist?)
Adorco was the one who identified Lim as the supplier of illegal drugs to the group of Espinosa operating in the Visayas region.
According to the CIDG, it was Adorco who claimed that Lim allegedly supplied narcotics in “staggering amounts” to Espinosa for more than two years.
One such transaction involved the delivery of 50 kilos of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) which Lim allegedly handed to Espinosa at the parking of Cash & Carry supermarket in Makati City on June 7, 2015.
Adorco has also claimed that the pair had a successful business partnership which allowed them to control the narcotics trade in Central and Eastern Visayas regions, the CIDG said in the complaint for drug trafficking that the agency filed in July against Lim, Espinosa and several others, most of them known only by their aliases.
Espinosa, a native of Cebu, has earlier admitted that he had operated in Cebu but made his fortune after he set up his drug operation in Eastern Visayas (Region 8), with the town of Albuera in Leyte as his base.
(Kerwin’s father, Rolando Espinosa Sr., became the mayor of Albuera in the May 2016 elections and was also implicated in his son’s drug operation.
The mayor was subsequently arrested and killed inside the Leyte sub-provincial jail in the city of Baybay in an alleged shootout with CIDG operatives who were searching his cell for firearms.)
In the hearing last August, Loja had insisted before the DOJ that the witness who identified him as a drug lord should appear before the prosecutors and affirm his affidavit.
“Considering the crime imputed to my client is very grave, we find it [that] he should be presented so that he can subscribe to his affidavits and verify if his claims are true,” Loja had told reporters during the preliminary investigation held on August 14.
Yesterday, Loja noted that Orsos had admitted that they were still preparing Adorco’s supplemental affidavit and other pertinent documents.
“How can you tell us and the DOJ panel that Adorco subscribed to his affidavit voluntarily? Those documents do not even exist,” Loja told the DOJ prosecutors.
In response to Loja’s claim, Orsos said Lim’s lawyer had a “wrong understanding” of their request and that they were ready to file the documents with Adorco’s original affidavit.
An infuriated Loja replied, “I beg to disagree and take offense (to that). It’s the counsel of (the DILG) who misunderstands and misrepresents what I’m trying to say.”
Reyes immediately settled the issue by ordering the CIDG to ensure Adorco’s presence at the next hearing on September 12 to sign his reply affidavit before the panel of prosecutors.
The assistant state prosecutor also clarified that what CIDG would submit was actually Adorco’s reply affidavit and not a supplemental affidavit as the latter would mean that there would be new allegations against Lim.
“Peter Lim went here to subscribe his affidavit. The proper procedure is for you to again bring Adorco here and have him subscribe his (reply) affidavit,” Reyes said.
Biggest drug lords
Lim was publicly named by President Rodrigo Duterte as one of the country’s biggest drug lords. He was also identified by self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa as one of his suppliers of shabu (crystal methamphetamine).
Last July 2017, the CIDG filed a case against Lim, Espinosa and six others for alleged conspiracy to commit the “sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals.”
The criminal conspiracy, the CIDG said, was continuously existing in various places in Makati City, as well as in Central and Eastern Visayas from February 2013 to August 2015 at the very least.
Besides Lim and Espinosa, also facing drug charges were convicted drug lord Peter Co, Lovely Adam Impal, Jun Pepito, Rupel Malindangan, Max Miro and Adorco.
Lim had repeatedly denied the accusations hurled against him.
In an interview at his office in Barangay Subangdaku, Mandaue City, last month, Lim said the controversy has bothered him a lot.
But the 70-year-old Chinese-Filipino businessman said he has no plans of running away.
In 2001, Lim and his brother Wellington were investigated by Congress over their alleged involvement in illegal drugs.
The National Bureau of Investigation, however, dismissed the complaints against the Lim brothers due to insufficiency of evidence.