PETER LIM: A NO-SHOW
Businessman wants accuser to appear before prosecutors
Cebu businessman Peter Lim skipped on Monday the start of the preliminary hearing of the drug trafficking charges filed against him at the Department of Justice (DOJ).
But his no-show doesn’t indicate that he is not going to face the charges, according to his lawyer, Majilyn Loja.
“The (proceeding) is only for us to be furnished with a copy of the complaint. We were deputized by our client to get his copy,” the lawyer told reporters during the preliminary investigation on Monday.
Loja also insisted that the witness who identified Lim 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,” the lawyer said.
Loja was referring to Lim’s co-respondent Marcelo Adorco, who identified the businessman in his affidavit as the one who supplied “staggering amounts” of drugs to Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr., then the biggest drug lord in Eastern Visayas.
She also maintained that Lim was not the Peter Lim who was named by President Duterte as one of the country’s biggest drug lords.
“He is not that person. He has always denied it. In fact, he had presented himself (to the authorities) saying he is not the Peter Lim alias Jaguar,” Loja told reporters.
Loja stressed that Lim was ready to face the charges against him.
“We will be advising him that today’s setting is for the scheduling of filing of counter-affidavit,” she added.
Lim, Espinosa, Adorco, convicted drug lord Peter Co, Max Miro and Lovely Impal, were respondents in the drug trafficking complaints filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group at the DOJ.
They were specifically charged with violation of Section 26(b) in relation to Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, for alleged conspiring to commit “sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals.”
Of the six, only Espinosa, who was in government custody following his arrest in Abu Dhabi in October last year, attended the preliminary investigation presided over by Assistant State Prosecutors John Michael Humarang and Aristotle Reyes.
A representative from the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), Superintendent Roberto Rabo, was present on behalf of Co who is serving a life sentence at the New Bilibid Prison after he was convicted in 2001 of selling illegal drugs.
The respondents were given up to Aug. 24 to submit their counter-affidavits.
The DOJ prosecutors set the second preliminary investigation on Aug. 17.
Supt. Royina Garma, head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Central Visayas (CIDG-7), kept their hands off Lim’s failure to appear at the DOJ.
“Labas na kami dun kung mag-appear siya o hindi (We don’t have any control on whether or not he would appear at the DOJ,” she told CDN.
CIDG-7 was earlier tasked to look into Lim’s personal background, financial transactions, and connections.
Garma said they already sent their findings to Camp Crame.
“It’s already up to the DOJ on what action to take. We will just wait for their investigation,” she said.
Last Aug. 1, CIDG-7 agents served a subpoena which mandated Lim to personally appear at the DOJ on Aug. 14 and 17 for the preliminary investigation of the case against him.
The subpoena was received by his security guard. Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II earlier claimed that the Lim identified by the President was not the Cebu-based businessman but Jeffrey “Jaquar” Diaz, Central Visayas’ biggest drug lord who was killed by Cebu police officials in a drug operation in Las Piñas City on June 17, 2016.
But based on their investigation, CIDG-7’s Garma said the Lim referred by President Duterte was the Cebuano businessman who owned several businesses in Cebu.
“There were issues that he’s not the one (referred to by the President), but it was eventually established that he’s the real Peter Lim,” she said in an earlier interview.
Garma admitted that they were having a hard time gathering evidence against Lim since people who had personal knowledge about the operations and transactions of the Cebu businessman were concerned for their safety.
Two former employees of Lim were killed several years after testifying against the businessman during the congressional inquiry on illegal drugs in 2001.
Bernard Liu and Ananias Dy, detailed the businessman’s involvement in illegal drugs during the congressional inquiry.
Lim and his brother Wellington were later cleared. Dy was shot dead by two unidentified men in July 2006 at the corner of Salvador and Katipunan Streets in Barangay Labangon, Cebu City.
Liu was already decomposing when found in his house in Talisay City in September 2011. A rope was tied around his neck and crude oil poured over his body. In a press conference on Aug. 3, Lim denied the accusations that he was involved in the illegal drugs trade.
He vowed to face the case filed against him head-on to clear his name.
The 70-year-old businessman said he was worried about his safety, and that his family had been badly affected by the controversy.
Lim has been placed on the Bureau of Immigration’s watch list, mandating him to report to the DOJ before traveling abroad.
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