MANILA, Philippines – Suspected big-time drug lord Peter Lim appeared before the media Thursday afternoon and denied accusations that he was involved in the narcotics trade.
A report by ABS-CBN-Cebu’s Edgar Escalante said Lim showed up at his office in Mandaue City, Cebu before 3 p.m. and granted reporters a five-minute interview.
Escalante quoted Lim as saying that he welcomed the Department of Justice (DOJ)’s move to investigate allegations that the Cebu-based businessman was involved in drug trade and conspiracy and that he was allegedly supplying shabu to the drug group in Central Visayas led by Kerwin Espinosa.
During his media interview, Lim dismissed the allegations against him as “false and fabricated” and said that the DOJ’s preliminary investigation set for August 14 and 17 would be the chance for him to clear his name.
The businessman also said he would cooperate with the DOJ in its probe and reiterated his July 2016 promise to President Rodrigo Duterte that he would help the government in its fight against illegal drugs.
Lim said the allegations being hurled against him had compromised his and his family’s security and he was hoping that he would soon have the chance to prove his innocence.
On Wednesday, August 2, Cebu City Police Director Senior Supt. Joel Doria said authorities had intensified their search for Lim after Duterte last year mentioned him as among the country’s top drug lords, but the businessman proved to be elusive.
“Mula no’ng mabanggit ‘yong pangalan niya ng ating Presidente, in-intensify natin ‘yong investigation, ang monitoring. Pero so far kasi mailap,” said Doria.
A subpoena was served last August 1 on Lim at his residence in Cebu City. A security guard received the writ ordering Lim to appear at the DOJ central office in Manila on August 14 and 17 for the preliminary investigation.
‘He will die’
Last year, on July 7, Duterte disclosed the names of alleged drug lords behind huge syndicates as well as the retired police general supposedly protecting them.
The President identified Lim as among the country’s top drug lords, the others are Wu Tuan alias Peter Co and Herbert “Ampang” Colanggo, who are already behind bars.
The President warned that, “If he (Lim) has friends here, tell him, the moment he lands at NAIA, he will die.”
“Better tell him not to come back to the Philippines anymore. The moment he steps out of the plane, he will die. That is my assurance to the people of the Philippines. How? It doesn’t matter,” he added.
According to Duterte, Lim, Co, and Colanggo were allegedly being protected by retired police deputy director Gen. Marcelo Garbo Jr.
On July 8 of the same year, Lim’s spokesperson, Dioscoro Fuentes Jr., denied that the businessman was linked to illegal drugs.
Fuentes also said Lim and Duterte both stood as primary sponsors in the June 25, 2016 wedding of the daughter of businessman Fernando Borja, owner of Adnama Group of Companies and a close friend of Duterte who supported his presidential campaign.
“If you’ll look at it, my client and our beloved President are kumpares,” Fuentes told reporters during a news conference.
It wasn’t the first time that Lim and Duterte attended a common event. On June 8, 2016, the two attended a party organized by Borja for then newly elected President Duterte at the Adnama Building in Mandaue City.
Later, on the third week of July last year, Lim met Duterte at the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Region 11 office in Davao City. The Cebu-based businessman denied being involved in narcotics trade and promised the President that he would help the government in its fight against illegal drugs.
“I could clear up everything because my family is really in deep problem now in Cebu…In any way, I will help, in all my ways I can…I’m with you all the way, Mr. President,” Lim told Duterte during their meet.
The President advised Lim to to go to the National Bureau of Investigation to clear his name and talk to DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre III.
“We want to help you. Help us clear you. We’re not here to pin down innocent citizens,” the chief executive told Lim.
Witnesses to Lim brothers’ alleged drug activities killed
Lim and his brother, Wellington, were the subject of a congressional inquiry on illegal drugs in 2001 presided by then Cebu City Rep. Antonio Cuenco. The House Committee on Dangerous Drugs that conducted the investigation eventually cleared the Lim brothers of their alleged drug links.
According to Cuenco, the Lim brothers have been on the Philippine National Police’s drug watch list since 1997.
Last year, Cuenco said witnesses Bernard Liu and Ananias Dy, who used to work for the Lims, testified against Peter and Wellington during the 2001 House inquiry, were separately murdered in 2006 and 2011. He said Liu was gunned down in 2006, while Dy died in his house in 2011 apparently because of foul play.
Liu testified that he personally knew the illegal drug activities of the Lim brothers because he was brought to Hong Kong three times, between 1989 and 1996, to get supplies of shabu.
Dy made the same testimony and added that it was easy for the Lims to engage in drug trafficking because they allegedly had contacts at the Bureau of Customs.