Flawed war and the rich

By: Editorial August 17,2018 - 09:48 PM

What should not be forgotten in the manhunt for businessman Peter Lim, who stands accused of being a drug lord is how his current state of hiding summarizes much of what is wrong in the government’s fight against illegal drugs.

While poor and innocent men, women, and children, many of them mere suspects were falling left and right like steamrollered trees across the Philippines, Lim had the luxury of visiting with and apparently acquitting himself before no less than President Rodrigo Duterte.

“I will advise you strongly to submit to an investigation,” the President told Lim in July 2016. “We want to help you. Help us clear you. We’re not here to pin down innocent citizens.”

No matter how the President may justify his words, he may not fault the ordinary citizen who on hindsight reads them as a logical explanation for why the case against Lim was thrown out by the Department of Justice last year under then Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.

The President’s cordon sanitaire took pains to project a frustrated leader, even coming out with baloney of an argument about whether Duterte’s fist was left swollen after he reportedly punched a wall when news broke of the drug case dismissal that had enraged citizens.

But the drama accomplished nothing more than give Lim time to hide. Aguirre was peacefully allowed to resign after scrapping the dismissal of charges against Lim, Peter Co, and self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa. No case has been filed against the erstwhile justice chief though public clamor, not Aguirre, is solely responsible for why the law is still after Lim today.

As prosecutors went about looking for fresh evidence against Lim, as he enjoyed the due process of the rich, the list of those who perished in the government’s so-called war against drugs grew longer and longer. Joining the well-publicized names of Kian delos Santos, Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo de Guzman were thousands of others, including Cebu’s own Bladen Skyler Abatayo, 4, killed by a stray bullet amid a failed police chase of drug offenders.

Trackers have been deployed to help police find Lim. How unnecessary, had the former justice chief possessed the conscientiousness to take Peter Lim and other big drug players to court.

Yes, Peter Lim should surrender again. But with a police force that has a record of persons dying or being murdered in their custody — Allan Rafael, Genesis Argoncillo, Jee Ick-joo — and nowadays suspected of being hitmen, law enforcers should not be surprised if Lim gets creative in making himself scarce.

Let them chase him, nevertheless, and arrest and try him, not for their redemption alone but for the public to underline the need for due process for all suspects, not only for traders with deep pockets with whom the President can play reverse psychology.

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TAGS: rich, war

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