WHO IS DIGONG’S PETER LIM?
Who is the Peter Lim referred to by President Rodrigo Duterte as one of the three big-time drug lords in the country?
A Cebuano businessman bearing the same name is anxious over insinuations that he is that person named by President Duterte last Thursday, Lim’s legal counsel said yesterday.
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña and Councilor James Anthony Cuenco also said yesterday that they both knew a Cebuano businessman by the name of ‘Peter Lim’ but both were unsure if he was the same person referred to by the President.
Many Cebuanos are familiar with the name Peter Lim, as he was the subject of an anti-drug investigation 16 years ago. At that time, brothers Peter and Wellington Lim, the owners of Hilton Heavy Equipment, were identified as big-time drug lords of Cebu City in a congressional inquiry presided by then Cebu City south district representative Antonio Cuenco in 2001. The Lim brothers were eventually cleared by the House’s committee on dangerous drugs that conducted the investigation.
Lawyer Dioscoro Fuentes Jr., Lim’s spokesperson, yesterday called for a press conference at the Rajah Park Hotel in uptown Cebu City hotel to deny that his client, the Cebuano businessman, was the same Peter Lim alluded to by the President.
“He’s very sad and really devastated because his name is again brought to the open,” he said.
Fuentes said his client was not even acquainted with retired police general Marcelo Garbo, whom President Duterte has identified as the coddler of three top drug lords that included a certain Peter Lim.
“Never in his lifetime did (Lim) encounter or talk to Garbo. I swear,” the lawyer said.
This Lim is in Cebu
He said his client, the owner of at least five business entities in Cebu, was not abroad but at his home in Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City recuperating from a kidney illness.
He said the last time Lim travelled abroad was in August 2015, when he brought his ailing mother to Singapore for a medical checkup. He returned to Cebu two months later after his mom died.
Fuentes pointed out that his client was not the only Peter Lim in Cebu City.
He cited figures from the Commission on Elections that showed there were at least 110 Peter Lims registered with the poll body in 2001—the year a Congressional inquiry was conducted on the Lim brothers.
“There are plenty of Peter Lims. That’s a common name among Chinese people. And we’re sure that my client isn’t the one referred to by President Duterte,” he explained.
His client, he said, was nonetheless happy since Duterte qualified his statement and cautioned the ‘Peter Lim’ on his list not to return to the country otherwise he’ll be killed when he arrives at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
“Getting killed at the airport is a far-fetched idea insofar as my client is concerned. That will not happen because he’s just in Cebu City. There’s this misconception, and he wants people to know that he’s not into illegal drugs and that he was cleared by Congress in 2001,” he said.
Fuentes said Lim is not even facing a single criminal or civil complaint.
For now, Fuentes said they don’t have any intention to personally meet with President Duterte to clear his client’s name.
“The Peter Lim of Cebu is a very shy person. I don’t think he has the gall to ask the President for a meeting. Sending the President a letter is an option.
But the decision shall come from him (Lim),” the lawyer said.
But Lim, he said, now feared for his life after Duterte mentioned about a ‘Peter Lim’ in a televised press briefing at Malacañang on Thursday night.
He said Lim was particularly afraid because his photo was used in some news reports as the ‘Peter Lim’ named by the President.
Fuentes said Lim has not received any death threat but they aren’t taking any chances and are even considering requesting the government for help.
He admitted that Mr. Duterte and Lim were “kumpares” as they were both principal sponsors in the wedding of Beatrice Borja, the only child of businessman Fernando Borja, the owner of Adnama Group of Companies and a friend of Duterte, to Yuri Ofek, an Israeli who works as a country manager of a business outsourcing company in Cebu. The wedding was held at the Shangri-La’s Mactan Island Resort and Spa in Lapu-Lapu City last June 25, the event that Duterte attended before he joined the thanksgiving party with his supporters held at the South Road Properties (SRP).
Lim, now 71 years old, is the grandson of a Cebuano merchant.
His businesses include Hilton Heavy Equipment in Mandaue City; Limbros Realty and Development Corporation, which manages Happy Homes, a low-cost housing in the cities of Lapu-Lapu and Talisay; Kazz International; K1 KTV in Cebu City; and Tiger Motor Sales in Mandaue City.
Asked if Lim also owned Thunderdome as well as Infinity and Cities Bar, Fuentes said, “I don’t know about it.”
He said Lim separated from his wife years ago and his daughter and two sons are now managing the family businesses.
“He actually lost about 20 pounds because of his kidney illness. He was advised by his doctors to rest,” he said.
President Duterte, on Thursday, revealed that Garbo allegedly coddled drug lords Peter Lim alias Jaguar, Wu Tuan alias Peter Co and Herbert Colangco alias Ampang. Co and Colangco are high-profile inmates now behind bars at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City while Lim was reportedly outside the country.
Senior Supt. Rey Lyndon Lawas, deputy regional director for operations of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), said they were ready to assist the President if directed.
Oh my gosh!
Councilor Cuenco, meanwhile, yesterday denied allegations he helped secure special passes for Lim at the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA).
He said he recalled helping the Lim family once but it was because of his niece Marie, the wife of Peter Jr., Lim’s son.
He said Marie once called him to ask if he knew anyone at MCIA who could allow a funeral car into the tarmac to carry the remains of the mother of Peter Lim Sr., which had been flown in from Singapore.
He said he went on to ask for that favor from Ahmed Cuizon, then the MCIA information officer who is also the husband of the secretary of Councilor Margarita Osmeña.
Cuenco said it was the first and last instance that he helped the Lims.
“It’s just horrible that there is an imputation of bad faith towards me. I am a protector (of a drug lord)? Oh my gosh, I’m just a city councilor. What power do I have?” he said.
Osmeña, for his part, said Peter Lim Sr. is his friend but has no information that the latter owned a club called Jaguar or that he went by the alias Jaguar.
He also stressed that he had no reason to stop Peter Lim Sr. from doing business in Cebu City since the latter has not committed any crime in the city.
“We are not a Martial Law country,” he said.
The mayor, however, revealed that he knew the two witnesses who testified against Peter Lim in the congressional inquiry, Bernard Liu and Ananias Dy.
He said he had protected Liu but after he stepped down as mayor, Lui moved to Talisay City where he was killed. The decomposing body of Liu, with a rope tied around his neck, was found in his home in Naya Subdivision, Barangay Tangke, Talisay City, where he lived alone, in September 2011.
Liu, along with Ananias Dy, testified against the Lim brothers during the congressional inquiry, detailing the businessmen’s involvement in illegal drugs.
The two went into hiding, but Liu later surrendered but was later released after the court threw out the drug and libel cases filed against them by the Lim brothers.
In July 2006, Dy was shot dead by two unidentified men at the corner of Salvador and Katipunan Streets in Barangay Labangon, Cebu City.
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