Peter Lim’s lawyers deplore new drug probe

By Inquirer.net April 12,2018

Lawyers of Cebu-based businessman Peter Lim deplored the violation of their client’s right to due process with the conduct of another investigation despite the dismissal of the drug complaint against him.

“We are concerned about the violation of our client’s rights to due process. Our client is faced again with a situation where he has to prove himself,” Atty. Magilyn Loja said during the start of the preliminary investigation on the complaint filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG)

The preliminary investigation is being conducted by the new panel of investigators created by then Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II. In an order issued last March, Aguirre “vacated” the Dec. 20, 2017 resolution dismissing the case against Lim, self-confessed drug distributor Kerwin Espinosa, convicted drug lord Peter Co and several others for lack of evidence.

In his order dated March 19, Aguirre said “the Resolution dated December 20, 2017 dismissing this instant case be vacated and the above-mentioned case be remanded to a new panel of prosecutors for purposes of conducting the continuation of the preliminary investigation/clarificatory hearing and to allow the complainant and respondents to submit additional pieces of evidence in support of their respective positions.”

Aguirre said that he gave the directive pursuant to his powers as then justice secretary provided under Republic Act 10071 (Prosecution Service Act of 2010) in relation to DOJ Department Circular No. 004 dated January 4, 2017 regarding automatic review of criminal complaints.

Loja said Aguirre ordered the reinvestigation without citing any ground. They filed a motion for reconsideration against Aguirre’s order.

“The assailed Order effectively reopened the preliminary investigation after the first Panel of Prosecutors already dismissed the case, and found complainant’s evidence insufficient to support the finding of probable cause against Lim and his co-respondents.”

“In this case, however, the assailed Order neither contained the ground for vacating the dismissal of the complaint against Mr. Lim, nor it discussed the evidentiary basis in the records and disclosed to the parties during the preliminary investigation, to support such Order,” read Lim’s motion.

“Considering the threat from the President, the negative reactions from government officials and the perceived ‘public outrage,’ it is obvious that the assailed Order was issued to appease personalities and the public. Notably, the Secretary of Justice himself admitted that his action in this case was influenced by the public’s reaction on the dismissal of the complaint against Mr. Lim and his co-respondents,” they lamented.

The new panel led by Senior State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, with members Assistant State Prosecutor Anna Noreen Devanadera and Prosecution Attorney Herbert Calvin Abugan, issued a subpoena against all the parties and required them to submit additional evidence.

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