DOJ JUNKS PETER LIM’S APPEAL

By Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Inquirer, Julius N. Leonen April 27,2018

The investigation against controversial Cebuano businessman Peter Lim shall continue.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday denied the appeal of Lim’s camp to stop the new preliminary probe into the drug trafficking cases filed against him.

In a resolution, DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra junked Lim’s appeal to reinstate his exoneration from the charges filed against him, self-confessed drug trafficker Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr., convicted drug lord Peter Co and several others.

“Movant (Lim) has failed to show any violation of his due process rights, much less his right to a speedy disposition of his case,” Guevarra said.

“On the other hand, setting aside the challenged order will deny complainant its right to adduce all available evidence within its reach and may result in a serious miscarriage of justice, the very evil sought to be prevented by the legislature when it crafted Section 4 of RA No. 10071 (Prosecution Service Act of 2010),” he added.

Ready for any probe

Sought for comment, Lim’s spokesperson Jun Fuentes said their Manila-based lawyers Francis Alex Lopez and Miguel Gabionza are taking care of the case.

“If our pleading was denied, we don’t have any problem with that,” Fuentes told Cebu Daily News over the phone.

“He (Lim) will face the case filed against him, and anytime he will be requested by the DOJ to attend the investigation, he will be there,” he added.

Fuentes did not elaborate, saying he was requested by their lawyers to refrain from issuing statements to the media.

“No one from us in Cebu can say anything about the case as a sign of respect to our Manila lawyers. It’s up to them to do something about this case,” he said.

Earlier dismissal

The DOJ panel of prosecutors earlier dismissed the charges against Lim and the other respondents, citing the failure of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to present strong evidences against Lim and the other respondents.

The decision caused a public uproar, including President Rodrigo Duterte, who threatened to put then Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II in jail if Lim and Espinosa would go scot-free.

Aguirre immediately canceled his prosecutors’ resolution clearing the respondents and formed a new panel to look into the case last March 19, attributing his decision to the “nationwide uproar” created by the dismissal of the criminal charges against suspected big fish in the local narcotics trade.

The controversial dismissal of the charges against Lim and his co-respondents led to the resignation of Aguirre as Justice Secretary last April 5.

Pleading

In a pleading, Lim’s camp asked the DOJ to stop the new probe against the businessman, arguing that the former DOJ chief ordered the new investigation without citing any ground.

“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.

But Guevarra stressed that Aguirre’s order itself “discloses its legal basis, the ground for its issuance, and its intended objective, none of which is legally infirm of objectionable.”

“This claim is belied by the order itself, which categorically states that the remand of the case to a new panel of prosecutors is intended to allow complainant and respondents to submit additional evidence in support of their respective positions,” Guevarra said in his resolution.

“Wherefore, premises considered, respondent-movant Peter Go Lim’s motion for reconsideration dated 06 April 2018 is hereby denied for lack of merit,” the DOJ chief said.

CIDG investigation

Months after he assumed his post in July 2016, President Duterte identified one “Peter Lim” as one of the country’s biggest drug lords.

The Cebuano businessman then quickly denied that he was the Peter Lim linked by the President to illegal drugs.

The businessman met with the President at Malacañang’s satellite office in Davao City to belie the allegation raised against him.

Later, he was identified by Espinosa as one of his suppliers of shabu (crystal meth).

In July 2017, the CIDG’s Major Crimes Investigation Unit 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.

Witness

The CIDG presented as its lone witness, Marcelo Adorco, one of alleged henchmen of Espinosa.

Adorco claimed that Lim supplied narcotics in “staggering amounts” to Espinosa for more than two years. On June 4, 2015, Adoro said Lim allegedly met with him and Espinosa in Thailand regarding the delivery of 50 kilos of powdered meth at the Cash & Carry parking lot in Makati City three days later.

But Lim’s camp said the businessman had surrendered his passport to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to prove that Lim was not in Thailand on June 4, 2015, and was instead confined at the Cebu Doctors’ Hospital due to a kidney problem.

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