DOJ indicts Cebuano bizman Peter Lim anew

By: Jerome Aning and Ador Vincent S. Mayol August 10,2018 - 11:23 PM

Inquirer file photo

CEBU businessman Peter Lim is in deep trouble — again.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday found sufficient evidence to indict the controversial personality on charges of “conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade.”

The offense is non-bailable.

Lim will be facing trial before the Regional Trial Court in Makati City which may issue an arrest warrant against the businessman anytime soon unless he can secure an order to reverse the DOJ’s

Lim could not be reached for a statement on Friday.

But his spokesperson, Dioscoro “Jun” Fuentes, said they will do everything legally possible to reverse Lim’s indictment.

“Our Manila lawyers are on top of the case, and I’m sure they will exhaust all legal remedies under the existing circumstances,” he told Cebu Daily News over the phone.

Fuentes refused to elaborate, saying he has no authority to speak on the merits of the case.

He, however, gave an assurance that Lim is still in the country.

“He’s very much in Cebu,” Fuentes said.

Lim’s Cebu-based lawyer Pedro Leslie Salva politely begged off from issuing any statement, saying the businessman’s lawyers in Manila are handling the case.

“I’m not handling that particular case. I cannot speak in his behalf for that case,” he said.

CDN tried but failed to reach Lim’s Manila-based lawyer Francis Alex Lopez on Friday.

Republic Act 9168

In a resolution released Friday, the panel of prosecutors recommended the filing of charges against Lim for violating Republic Act 9168 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, particularly for “selling, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of any dangerous drug.”

The DOJ used as a basis the testimony of self-confessed drug distributor Kerwin Espinosa before the Senate, where Lim was identified as one of his suppliers of dangerous drugs.

“The [DOJ] panel find that the admission of respondent Espinosa during the legislative investigation of the Senate Committees on Justice and Public Order, together with Marcelo Adorco’s positive identification of Peter Go Lim as one of Kerwin’s suppliers of dangerous drugs, is sufficient to establish probable cause to charge them with conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading,” the DOJ said.

The panel is composed of Senior Assistant State Prosecutors Juan Pedro Navera, Anna Noreen T. Devanadera and Prosecution Attorney Herbert Calvin P. Abugan.

Distinct offense

Last month, the DOJ also indicted Espinosa, Adorco and other suspected drug traders Lovely Impal and Ruel Malindangan for a similar offense on a separate case involving drug transactions in Central and Western Visayas.

According to the panel, conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading is a distinct offense under RA 9165 and that the agreement to trade in drugs is “the gravamen of the offense.”

“The drugs themselves as corpus delicti (body of evidence) of drug trading are not essential under Section 26 (b) of the law,” the panel’s resolution stated, addressing Espinosa’s claim that no drugs were seized from him.

Regarding Lim’s defense that he was not the “Jaguar” who was Espinosa’s supplier, the panel said it was “immaterial” as Lim was identified by both Espinosa and Adorco.

On Lim’s alibi that he was not in Thailand when the agreement to trade in drugs was reached during the time attested by Adorco, the panel said this “has to yield to the positive and affirmative statements of the said witness.”

During the reinvestigation, Lim maintained that he is different from the one identified by Espinosa and Adorco.

The charges against Lim and company were dismissed last year because of the failure of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to present sufficient evidence and because of the “inconsistencies” in the testimony of Adorco, the lone witness.

The decision drew the ire of senators and several individuals particularly since Espinosa has admitted his involvement in the illegal drug trade.

President Rodrigo Duterte also expressed his dismay over the dismissal of the case and threatened to put then Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II behind bars if Lim and Espinosa would go scot-free.

Aguirre then issued an order canceling his prosecutors’ findings and ordered a reinvestigation of the case.

Big three

President Duterte earlier revealed the names of three big-time drug lords in the country: Wu Tuan alias Peter Co, Herbert Colangco alias Ampang and Peter Lim alias Jaguar.

Lim, according to the President, was operating in the Visayas.

Adorco, one of alleged henchmen 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 of powdered meth at the Cash & Carry parking lot in Makati City three days later.

But Lim’s camp said they surrendered Lim’s passport to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that showed Lim was not in Thailand on June 4, 2015.

“It was proven by Mr. Lim that, at that time, he was admitted for a kidney problem at the Cebu Doctors’ Hospital,” Fuentes earlier explained.

In July 2017, the CIDG’s Major Crimes Investigation Unit filed a case against Lim, Espinosa and six others for alleged conspiracy to commit the “sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals.”

The criminal conspiracy, the CIDG said, was continuously existing in various places in Makati City, as well as in Central and Eastern Visayas from February 2013 to August 2015 at the very least.

Not the first time

It was not the first time that Lim, who owns Hilton Heavy Equipment in Mandaue City, Cebu, was linked to illegal drugs.

He and his brother Wellington were subjected to a congressional inquiry on illegal drugs in 2001.

Two of their former employees — Bernard Liu and Ananias Dy — detailed the businessman’s involvement in illegal drugs during the investigation.

The congressional panel that investigated the Lim brothers found probable cause against Lim and asked the 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.

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.

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