Peter Lim worries over a Duterte review of his drug trafficking case
CONTROVERSIAL Cebu businessman Peter Lim has a reason to be worry again.
“How things quickly change,” said Lim’s spokesperson Jun Fuentes after President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to personally review the drug trafficking case filed against Lim, confessed drug lord Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr. and several other personalities that was dismissed by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) panel of prosecutors.
Fuentes said they thought the truth has already prevailed but didn’t expect the victory to be short-lived.
“We were thinking that we almost got it, and that the truth has set us free. However, because of the negative reactions, things changed,” he said in a phone interview.
Fuentes refused to elaborate, as it was the advise of Lim’s lawyers who were preparing for the continued legal battle after the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) filed a motion for reconsideration to contest the dismissal of the charges against Lim and the other respondents.
President Duterte on Tuesday questioned the findings of the state prosecutors that the evidence in the drug trafficking case against Lim, Espinosa and the other respondents were weak.
Reacting to the outrage over the outcome of the case, President Duterte told Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II that the latter would take the places of Lim and Espinosa Jr. if the two would go scot-free.
Aguirre yesterday ordered the creation of a new panel composed of Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, Assistant State Prosecutor Ana Noreen Devanadera and Prosecution Attorney Herbert Calvin Abugan that will review the decision junking the complaint.
Aguirre also asked the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate the prosecutors who dismissed the charges against Lim and companions.
Assistant State Prosecutors Michael John Humarang and Aristotle Reyes earlier dismissed the charges against Lim and company because of failure of the CIDG to present sufficient evidence and because of the “inconsistencies” in the testimony of lone witness Marcelo Adorco. Acting Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Rassendell Rex Gingoyon recommended approval of the resolution, which was approved by Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan.
The Dec. 20, 2017 ruling was only made public last Monday.
The decision drew the ire of senators and several individuals particularly since Espinosa has admitted his involvement in the illegal drug trade.
Lim, on the other hand, has repeatedly denied links to the illicit trade.
Adorco, an alleged henchman of Espinosa, claimed that Lim supplied narcotics in “staggering amounts” to Espinosa for more than two years. On June 4, 2015, Adorco said Lim allegedly met with him and Espinosa in Thailand regarding the delivery of 50 kilos powdered shabu (crystal meth) at the Cash & Carry parking lot in Makati City three days later.
But Lim’s passport showed he did not travel abroad and was instead confined at the Cebu Doctors’ Hospital on the day he purportedly went to Thailand.
But Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the President was concerned with the exoneration of high-profile drug lords and understood the public’s “sentiments and frustration” over the dismissal of the drug trafficking complaint.
Roque said the police could refile the cases and introduce new evidence that would be enough to sustain a conviction.
“The President’s promise is if the evidence is lacking, we will submit more; and if there are shenanigans, we will punish those responsible,” he said in a press briefing on Tuesday.
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña welcomed the President’s decision to personally review the case.
“I’m glad that the President is taking that move because I’m really getting disappointed,” he said in a press conference on Wednesday.
Osmeña again lashed out at Aguirre who he claimed has been involved in illegal activities and should resign.
Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III, meanwhile, said he was taken aback when he learned about the dismissal of the charges against Lim and the other respondents.
“I thought the evidence against them were strong if we based it on publicity,” he said in an interview on Wednesday.
He added: “If they are really convinced that the respondents are involved in the illegal drugs trade, (the CIDG) should not be sloppy in finding evidence.”
Aside from Lim and Espinosa, the DOJ special task force also dismissed the charges against convicted drug lord Peter Co, alleged drug supplier Lovely Adam Impal, Marcelo Adorco, Max Miro, Ruel Malindangan, Jun Pepito, and several others who were just known for their aliases.
CIDG-7 Director Royina Garma said they would continue to monitor Lim and the other respondents.
“We will not stop going after these personalities just because the case was dismissed. While President Duterte is our president, we will not stop,” she said in an interview.
Garma reiterated her appeal to those who have knowledge about illegal transactions that involved any of the respondents to come forward and help them strengthen the case against the alleged drug personalities.
“The police cannot do this alone. We need the support of the community which is indispensable. Now is the time to come out. It’s now or never because we will never know when we could have another leader like President Duterte who has the political will to end the problem on illegal drugs,” she said.
Garma also has an appeal to cohorts of Lim and the other respondents: “Quit now. Leave the group. My office is open to personally take your statements. I will protect them, and I’m sure the Office of the President will not neglect them. Try this administration. This is a different administration.” WITH CORRESPONDENTS DORIS MAY C. MONDRAGON AND JESSA MAE O. SOTTO AND INQUIRER
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