EXPLOSION ROCKS PETER LIM’S SHOP

By Fe Marie D. Dumaboc and Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Norman V. Mendoza July 05,2018

A policeman from the bomb squad unit of the Mandaue City Police Office investigates the explosion caused by an improvised bomb that was lobbed at the display store of the Hilton Heavy Equipment, owned by businessman Peter Lim in Subangdaku, Mandaue City, at dawn on Thursday, July 5, 2018.
CDN PHOTO/TONEE DESPOJO

Controversial Cebu businessman Peter Lim expressed concern over his safety after unidentified men set off two improvised explosive devices outside an establishment he owned in Barangay Subangdaku, Mandaue City.

This was the second time in a week that Lim’s properties had been attacked, and three months since an attempt was made on the life of Lim’s younger brother, Wellington.

The police, however, said that they were looking into a number of angles on the attacks on the properties of Peter Lim, who was tagged as an alleged drug lord by President Rodrigo Duterte, including the possibility that it could be “scripted.”

But Jun Fuentes, Lim’s spokesperson, said the businessman was genuinely worried about his safety.

He said Lim was in Manila when the explosion took place past 2 a.m. on Thursday.

Although he was not around, Lim became extremely concerned about his safety when informed about the incident, Fuentes said.

Fuentes said everyone, not just Lim, should be worried because it was a bombing incident, and a peace and order concern.

“We’re but humans, and we could be subjected to harassment,” he added.

Fuentes urged the police to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident and to identify the perpetrators.

“We leave the matter for authorities to investigate. If they want anything from us, the office is open. If the CCTV (closed-circuit television) footage we have in our establishment would help in the investigation, then investigators could have it,” he said.

Senior Supt. Roberto Alanas, director of the Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO), has launched an investigation into the explosion that rocked the display area of Hilton Motors Corporation, a heavy equipment company owned by Lim.

Investigators were looking into all possible angles to determine the motive behind the blast.

“We don’t want to make any conclusions for now just to satisfy the public or say things that would preempt the ongoing investigation,” he said in a press conference hours after the incident.

The explosion outside Hilton Motors was the third apparent attack against Lim and his brother Wellington in a span of about three months.

Scripted?

Alanas has formed an inter-agency task force composed of the police’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Canine Group, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Central Visayas, and the Mandaue City police to have a comprehensive picture about what happened.

“The attack could be related to a possible business competition or something else. But we’re also looking into the possibility that the explosion was scripted,” he said.

A CCTV camera installed by the Mandaue City government at a skywalk near Hilton Motors malfunctioned at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday or about eleven hours before the explosion.

Alanas said investigators have to look for other CCTVs from nearby stores, including one device owned by Hilton Motors.

“We’re still collating the footages to find out whether we could get something we could use in the investigation,” he said.

No one was hurt but the explosion tore apart the bumper of a mini dump truck, the left window of another truck, and Hilton Motors’ main electric switch.

Damage was pegged by the police at P26,000.

Asked about Thursday’s explosion at Lim’s establishment, Fuentes refused to pinpoint who they thought did it.

“No comment. I don’t know what’s going on now. We, at the office (of Lim), just have to keep working,” he said.

No show

Lim is facing a probe before the Department of Justice after he was publicly identified by President Rodrigo Duterte as a big-time drug lord, a claim the businessman strongly denied.

The drug trafficking charges against Lim were earlier dismissed by a panel of prosecutors. However, public criticisms and a threat from President Duterte prompted former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to reverse the panel’s ruling, and ordered another round of investigation against Lim.

The beleaguered Aguirre eventually resigned from his post.

Fuentes said their lawyers in Manila are taking care of Lim’s case.

As of Thursday afternoon, not one member of the Lim family went to the police station to seek assistance or cooperate in the investigation.

PO3 Frederick Andales of the Subangdaku Police Station said only Hilton Motors’ security guard, Ronilo Libre, gave a statement to the police.

In an interview, Libre said he was inside the guardhouse near the entrance gate of Hilton Motors when he heard two explosions at past 2 a.m. on Thursday.

“I did not immediately go out of the compound. I just looked around and found several vehicles outside,” he said in Cebuano.

Libre believed someone on board one of the vehicles that passed by the area lobbed the two improvised explosive devices towards the display area of Hilton Motors.

“I just could not say from which vehicle it came from,” said Libre who was assigned in Hilton Motors for five months now.

About 40 minutes after the explosion, Libre called up the Subangdaku Police Station to report the matter.

Three incidents

Hilton Motors was the third establishment owned by the Lims that was attacked by unidentified men.

Just last June 30, three armed men disarmed the security guard of Infinity KTV & Music Lounge and tried to set the establishment on fire.

The bar, located along Archbishop Reyes Ave., Cebu City, is owned by Lim’s younger brother Wellington.

Last March 23, unidentified men fired at a vehicle reportedly driven by Wellington as he was leaving the Infinity carpark.

Wellington was unharmed but security guard Wilson Bucag, 42, who was guiding Wellington’s car out of the parking lot, was killed after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds on the body.

Another security guard was wounded while two foreigners who happened to pass by during the shooting were wounded.

The Mandaue City police is coordinating with their counterparts in Cebu City to determine whether or not the incidents involving three properties owned by the Lims were related to each other.

Chief Insp. Maria Theresa Macatangay, commander of the Fuente Police Station, said the Lims have not cooperated with investigators since unidentified persons tried to burn down Infinity KTV & Music Lounge last Saturday.

“Not even person from the management came here to cooperate,” she said. /with reports from Nestle L. Semilla and Paul Lauro

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