PRESUMED INNOCENT

By: Izobelle T. Pulgo, Jose Santino S. Bunachita, Michelle Joy L. Padayhag - Inquirer.net | July 17,2016 - 11:54 PM
Peter Lim

Peter Lim

Having Peter Lim prove his innocence is unconstitutional

The last time I read the Constitution, it said that it is the duty of the state to prove the guilt of a person and not the other way around.”
This was the reaction of lawyer Democrito Barcenas, chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) in region 7, to the statement of Communications Secretary Martin Andanar over the state-run radio dzRB that the burden of proving the innocence of Peter Lim is now in the Cebuano businessman’s hands.

“He cleared his name, and he has expressed his intention to the President that he will do just that. Now, the burden now is on Peter Lim, and we do encourage the rest of the suspects to do the same,” Inquirer.net quoted the Palace official as saying.

President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier said a Cebuano businessman named Peter Lim is a suspected member of the 14K Hong Kong triad.

Peter Lim, a Chinese Cebuano who owns several business interests in Cebu, met with Duterte last Friday in Davao City in an effort to clear his name before the President.

Instead, the President berated him and “strongly” advised him to submit himself to an investigation before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Lucky

Barcenas said he was not defending Peter Lim but rather invoking his constitutional right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

“For now, he is already branded, like the five other generals,” Barcenas said.

The human rights lawyer said it would be hard for the NBI to exonerate Lim because it is an agency under the Office of the President.

Malacañang on Sunday defended the meeting between the President and Lim.

Asked why Lim was able to walk away from his meeting with the President, Andanar said, “The alleged suspect, drug lord suspect Peter Lim, has already expressed his intentions to clear his name, let’s leave it at that.”

But according to Barcenas, Lim and the five generals are still lucky because they were given a chance to explain, unlike the many drug suspects who have been gunned down without the opportunity to explain their side.

Barcenas said the angle of “shootout” and “encounter” is an “old refrain” that only the gullible believe.

At least 15 suspects have died from May 17 to July 7 in operations conducted by the police in Cebu.

Double standard

The same sentiments of double standard justice were aired all over the Internet on social media.

A netizen with an account name of Manoy Isidro left a comment on the Cebu Daily News page which read, “Is it a double standard of justice between the poor and the rich, or is it just how cleaning to silence and cut the rope of conspiracy?”

He also said, “If he (Lim) is not rich, influential and surrounded by armed bodyguards, mostly the Philippine National Police and military personnel, maybe he is dead by now.”

Another Facebook user identified as Ivan Manimtim posted a comment, “Buti pa ang pinaghihinalaang drug lord ay binibigyan ng due process. Asang husticia. Pobre walang due process (Suspected drug lords are better off because they are given due process. Where’s justice? The poor have no due process).”

No Investigation yet

Police Regional director Chief Supt. Noli Taliño yesterday said the PNP has not started any investigation on the alleged links of Lim to the illegal drug trade.

He gave his assurance that the police will cooperate with any agency that would investigate Lim.

Wala pa kaming alam na investigation na ginagawa. But if ever meron (We still don’t know of any ongoing investigation. But if ever there is), we will fully support it,” Taliño said.

“It’s good na nagpakita na siya kay (that he showed himself to) President Duterte. Otherwise, forever siya magtatago (he will be forever hiding) and under investigation,” he said in a text message to Cebu Daily News.

Two witnesses

During Lim’s meeting with Duterte, the President said he would review the documents related to the Congressional Inquiry in 2001, where Lim and his brother were investigated for alleged involvement in the drug cartel.

Former vice chairperson of the Dangerous Drugs Board, lawyer Paul Oaminal said the different government agencies should also investigate the death of the two witnesses who testified against the Lims, Bernard Liu and Ananias Dy, both former employees of Hilton Motors, owned by Peter Lim.

Liu was shot dead in 2006 while Dy was found dead, with obvious signs of foul play, inside his house in 2011.

“As far as I’m concerned, ang akong nabasa sa kadtong (what I read in) congressional inquiry, the Committee on Dangerous Drugs did not clear Peter Lim,” he said.

“What happened was the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs requested the assistance of the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation), the Interpol and PNP (Philippine National Police),” Oaminal said.

“Sa una, Narcotics Command pa man because PDEA was created in 2002. Ang agencies nga maglihok ato kay ang NBI but wa man sila’y report, resulta sa kadtong request sa .”

“The agencies that were involved did not have that report, which was a result of the request of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs,” he added.
Despite the testimonies of the two witnesses, the NBI dismissed the complaints against the Lim brothers due to insufficiency of evidence.

Oaminal explained that it would be good for the NBI to work on the report that was previously requested by the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs because it is undisputed that the two witnesses were murdered, but no one was prosecuted.

“Ako karon, I’m not imputing any crimes against Peter Lim. Basta ang importante, ang kadtong mga testigo, nangamatay ‘to (What is important is that the two witnesses died),” he said.

“Ang akong hangyo karon, there must be justice kadtong pagkamatay atong duha ka tawo whether or not their deaths were related sa mga drug syndicates. Ang importante, naa ju’y hustisya sa duha kabuok testigo or saksi,” Oaminal stressed.

The real Peter Lim

According to Oaminal, Lim’s meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte would provide a welcome relief for all the other Peter Lims, who can now rest easy, knowing that they were not the ones alluded to by the President.

“Ang nahitabo pag-adto ni Peter Lim, it’s a relief to all other similar names nga Peter Lim kay na-identify karon nga siya diay ang gi-refer,” he said.

“At least, mao’y sulti (that was what was said). Nalibog bitaw ko kay miingon man nga ipa-prove nga dili siya pero as far as sa PDEA, kadtong statement sa PDEA, siya to ang gi-refer ni President Duterte nga PDEA from Cebu. So kadtong ubang Peter Lim, dili to sila ang gipasabot. Luoy pud kaayo tong uban nga na-drag with similar names (As far as PDEA that statement of PDEA, it was Lim who was referred to by President Duterte from the information coming from the PDEA from Cebu City. The other Peter Lims, they are not the ones referred to).”

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TAGS: Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Constitutional, Du30, Duterte, Duterte Administration, FLAG, Free Legal Assistance Group, House Committee on Dangerous Drugs, human rights, Human Rights Lawyers, illegal drug trade, illegal drugs, Justice, Martin Andanar, National Bureau of Investigation, NBI, Office of the President, Pdea, Peter Lim, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, President Duterte, President Rodrigo Duterte, President Rody Duterte, prohibited drugs, Rodrigo Duterte, Rody Duterte

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