WELLINGTON LIM SURVIVES AMBUSH
DRIVE-BY SHOOTING ON ARCHBISHOP REYES AVENUE
Who wants Wellington Lim dead?
This is the question now being asked by many quarters in Cebu in the wake of the failed ambush on the businessman outside of his establishment in Cebu City’s business district, which claimed the life of a security guard and injured three others.
He may be unharmed but Wellington, the younger brother of controversial Cebu businessman Peter Lim, was so scared that he declined to speak to the police after he survived an assassination attempt along Archbishop Reyes Avenue in Cebu City that occurred shortly before midnight on Friday, according to Peter.
“He (Wellington) was too traumatized. He’s not talking to anybody yet,” Peter told Cebu Daily News.
Wellington was on board his bullet-proof black Ford Expedition car that was on its way out of the parking lot of Infinity Bar KTV and Music Lounge — an establishment where he is a part-time owner — when unidentified men on a white pickup truck, armed with armalite rifles, peppered his vehicle with bullets at 11:45 p.m. on Friday.
Wellington and his two companions survived the drive-by shooting and managed to speed off towards Asia Premiere Residences, a residential condominium at the Cebu I.T. Park in Barangay Lahug, Cebu City, where Wellington has a unit and where he and his companions hid.
However, security guard Wilson Bucag, 42, who was guiding Wellington’s car out of Infinity Bar’s parking lot, was killed after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds on the body.
Another security guard, George Lambatan, and German tourists — Pauline Basbach, 20; and Manuel Georrings, 24 — were also wounded.
Lambatan sustained gunshot wounds on his face and arm, while Basbach and Georrings — who happened to be passing by the area — were wounded on the right thigh and right elbow, respectively.
All three are now recuperating at the Perpetual Succour Hospital in Cebu City.
Senior Supt. Joel Doria, director of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), said investigators could not yet confirm that it was the 70-year-old Wellington who was among those inside the ambushed vehicle.
“We still don’t have the names of those inside the vehicle. We just could not say that he (Wellington) was inside because we do not have witnesses or basis to say so. Anybody can say that he or she was inside the car. Our problem now is that the security guard (who survived) refused to cooperate with us,” he said in a press conference.
Homicide investigators went to the Asia Premiere Residences on Saturday morning but failed to talk to Wellington and the persons on board the ambushed vehicle.
Wellington’s brother Peter, however, confirmed to Cebu Daily News that Wellington, who is two years younger than him, was inside the vehicle that was ambushed.
Peter, 72, said they have not talked to the investigators about it yet.
He said their family members were sad about what happened to Wellington but were nonetheless grateful that the latter survived.
“Grabe. This happened in the middle of the city. Swerte nakaikyas siya. Laliman ka anang armalite ang gigamit (That was too much. The ambush happened in the middle of the city. My brother was fortunate to have escaped the perpetrators. Just imagine, the assailants used an armalite to supposedly kill my brother),” said Peter, who is being investigated by the Department of Justice after he was publicly named by President Rodrigo
Duterte as among the country’s top drug lords — an allegation the businessman vehemently denied.
Peter said he has not heard of any threats directed to his brother prior to the attack.
“I don’t know who did this to my brother. He never received death threats,” Peter said.
Wellington was also previously linked to the illegal drugs trade along with Peter but both were cleared of the allegations.
Doria said that after the shooting incident at 11:45 p.m. on Friday, 13 empty and live bullets of an M16 rifle and 9mm gun, as well as a licensed plate, were recovered in the crime scene.
“We will try to establish if there was a shootout,” Doria said.
While there was a closed-circuit television camera at the bar, he said it was not functioning when the attack happened.
He said they only learned where the ambush vehicle went because a personnel of the Barangay Intelligence Networks (BIN) assigned in the area, who was riding a motorcycle, happened to be nearby and followed the ambushed vehicle towards the Cebu I.T. Park where it took shelter.
Doria said investigators have yet to find out from the Land Transportation Office who owned the licensed plate as well as the registered owner of the ambushed vehicle.
Peter and Wellington were first dragged into the illegal drugs trade in 2001 and were subsequently subjected to a congressional inquiry on illegal drugs.
Two of their former employees — Bernard Liu and Ananias Dy — testified during the inquiry about the Lim brothers’ involvement in the illegal drugs trade, prompting the congressional body to ask the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to “fortify” the evidence against the siblings. The case, however, did not move forward.
In July 2006, Dy was shot dead by two unidentified men at the corner of Salvador and Katipunan Streets in Barangay Labangon, Cebu City.
The body of Liu, on the other hand, 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.
Shift to cars
Friday’s ambush try was the latest of high-profile gun attacks carried by unidentified assailants in Metro Cebu and elsewhere in Cebu province.
Doria, however, noticed a shift on how the killings were recently done.
“They (suspects) are no longer using motorcycles because they knew the police have been conducting several checkpoints. Instead, they are now using cars because they knew the police need a warrant before we can search the things inside their vehicles. All we can do now is merely plain view,” he said.
Doria said they will find ways on how to address the problem.
“We will come up with measures to stop assassins on board cars from carrying out their plans,” he said.
Since February 17, at least 48 persons were killed while five others survived in separate shooting incidents in Metro Cebu.
Of the five persons who survived, only Wellington and his companions were unscathed.
Investigators have not solved even just one of these cases yet.
Chief Supt. Robert Quenery, director of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), maintained the public should not be alarmed since the killings were “isolated,” have no pattern to link one to another and were committed for different reasons.
He also presented on Friday a data to show that the number of killings in Cebu has decreased from January to March 2018 compared to the same period last year.
Quenery noted the media began counting the murder cases in Cebu after President Rodrigo Duterte, during a visit in Cebu on March 12, warned that some personalities involved in criminal activities, particularly in the illegal drugs trade, would fall in the coming days.
Quenery instead appealed to the public to give investigators enough time to solve the killings.
“Investigation is not like a math problem that happens today and you solve it tomorrow. There has to be a tedious and rigorous examination of all facts. What makes it difficult is when there are no witness,” Quenery said.
“More often than not, the perpetrators were wearing masks. Because of that, we already have a hard time identifying them. But I trust that we can have a breakthrough on each case presented before the investigators,” he added.
Quenery said it is possible that members of drug syndicates are now killing each other because of the government’s intensified program against illegal drugs.
“As I always say, illegal drugs trade is a web full of deceit and treachery. It is a dirty business. It would really come to a point that they will kill each other,” he added.
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