CIDG-7 ready to investigate Peter Lim anew
AS the Department of Justice (DOJ) begins another round of investigation against Peter Lim, the chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Central Visayas (CIDG-7) expressed openness to gather more evidence to prove the guilt of the controversial Cebu businessman.
“If the case is reopened, everything will be reviewed. That is good news. At least our investigators will have the chance to present evidence,” said Supt. Royina Garma, CIDG-7 director, in an interview on Wednesday.
However, she said they have to wait for a formal directive from higher ups in the CIDG central office in Manila before they can resume collecting pieces of evidence against Lim.
“Of course, we’re ready to help if there will be directive from our national office,” said Garma, who earlier took part in investigating Lim.
Garma welcomed the decision of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to overturn the prosecutors’ findings that dismissed the drug trafficking case against Lim, self-confessed drug lord Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr. and several other respondents.
She said allowing another investigation will help law enforcers and the prosecution to present more evidence against the respondents.
This time, Garma said the prosecution must take advantage of the situation so they could present enough evidence.
“We can scrutinize the evidence to find out what else we need, which were absent when the case was first resolved by the panel of prosecutors,” she said.
Aguirre on Monday issued an order vacating the earlier dismissal of the drug trafficking case against the respondents.
With his order, he said the parties in the case can now submit new evidence to strengthen their respective positions.
Aguirre said the “nationwide uproar” over the dismissal of suspected big fish in the drug trade contributed to his decision.
Lim’s spokesperson Dioscoro “Jun” Fuentes declined to issue any statement as he has yet to confer with the businessman.
“We haven’t met yet so I’d rather not issue a statement for the time being,” he told Cebu Daily News over the phone.
Fuentes said Lim visited his doctors in the hospital on Wednesday due to the businessman’s recurring kidney ailment.
Garma said they earlier conducted a complete background and financial investigations on Lim upon the request of their superiors in Manila.
However, she said they failed to get the documents they needed since government offices had been uncooperative and had refused to release information pertaining to Lim’s business transactions.
Garma said agencies such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Bureau of Immigration, and the Maritime Industry Authority did not release Lim’s records due to “secrecy” policies of these offices.
In 2012, the National Privacy Commission released the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act No. 10173 or the Data Privacy Act of 2012 which aims to “safeguard the fundamental human right of every individual to privacy while ensuring free flow of information for innovation, growth, and national development.”
Hence, for example, information about bank deposits can be disclosed by the banks to third parties only with the written consent of the depositor or under the circumstances cited in the Secrecy of Bank Deposits Act.
The rationale behind the confidentiality clause is that personal data is an essential element of human rights and should therefore be treated with utmost care and security by whoever is given the authority to collect and process them.
“We did our best to secure the documents we need against Peter Lim. But we really had a difficult time because our fellow government agencies could not release them due to this privacy act,” Garma said.
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 March 12.
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.
President Rodrigo Duterte also expressed his dismay over the dismissal of the case and threatened to put Aguirre behind bars if Lim and Espinosa would go scot-free.
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.
Insofar as Lim is concerned, Garma said they had “overwhelming intelligence reports” against the Cebuano businessman. However, people, she said, were scared to come out into the open and testify.
Lim and his brother Wellington were also linked to the illegal drugs trade and were even subjected to a congressional inquiry in 2001. Both were cleared of the allegations.
But Lim’s former employees — Bernard Liu and Ananias Dy — who had detailed the Lim brothers’ alleged links to the drug trade during the congressional inquiry in 2001 both ended up dead.
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’s body was 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 an earlier interview, Garma said they found out that Lim enjoyed police protection for several years before he was publicly identified by President
Duterte as a drug lord. Based on their investigation, Garma said policemen even served as Lim’s bodyguard.
“He is more than (tycoons) Lucio Tan or Henry Sy when it comes to accommodating police officials in Cebu. He provides vehicles to them and gave them almost everything,” she said.
The police officials who were linked to Lim, she said, were already transferred outside Cebu.
Garma appealed to witnesses to cooperate with them and help them in the investigation against Lim.
“As it is, we need the support of the community. The police cannot do this alone. We welcome any witness who can help us in the investigation,” she said.
“As I said before, we are not done yet. There’s an automatic review of the case and this is good for us. I hope people who know the truth will come out and cooperate. This is our last chance to address the drug problem in our country. I think we will never have another president as sincere as President Duterte in eliminating drugs,” she said.
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