DOJ junks Peter Lim’s request to stop new probe on drug rap

MANILAJustice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Friday denied the request of businessman Peter Lim to reinstate the previous resolution absolving him and others involved in the drug complaint and stop the investigation of a new panel of prosecutors into the illegal drugs case.

In a four-page resolution, Guevarra denied for lack of merit on Lim's motion filed April 6 which sought to uphold the December 20, 2017 resolution issued by a panel of prosecutors who dismissed the complaint due to weak evidence.

"By its own terms, the order itself discloses its legal basis, the ground for issuance and its intended objective, none of which is legally infirm or objectionable. Movant (Lim) has failed to show violation of his due process rights, much less his right to speedy disposition of his case, read the resolution dated April 27 signed by Guevarra.

Finally, movant relies on the supposed declarations made by various political personalities, including the former Justice Secretary himself, regarding the public indignation over the resolution issued by the first panel of prosecutors. The personal motivation of such personalities and how they gain public traction are irrelevant to the determination by this Office of the legality propriety of the issuance of the assailed order, Guevarra said.

A previous DOJ panel of prosecutors issued the Dec. 20, 2017 resolution, dismissing the drug complaint filed by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group's Major Crimes Investigation Unit against Lim and other alleged drug personalities, including self confessed drug dealer Kerwin Espinosa.

However on March 19, former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre III issued an order the "case be remanded to a new panel of prosecutors for purposes of conducting the continuation of the preliminary investigation/clarificatory hearing and to allow the complainant and respondents to submit additional pieces of evidence in support of their respective positions.

In his motion for reconsideration, Lim's lawyers challenged the March 19 order of Aguirre, arguing the the assailed Order effectively reopened the preliminary investigation after the first Panel of Prosecutors already dismissed the case, and found complainant's evidence insufficient to support the finding of probable cause against Lim and his co-respondents.

In this case, however, the assailed Order neither contained the ground for vacating the dismissal of the complaint against Mr. Lim, nor it discuss the evidentiary basis in the records and disclosed to the parties during the preliminary investigation, to support such Order, Lim's motion read.

Based on the complaint, Lim and his co-respondents are accused of violating Section 26(b) in relation to Section 5 (Sale, Trading, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Distribution and Transportation of Dangerous Drugs and/or Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals) of Republic Act 9165, also known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

The PNP based its complaint on the sworn statements issued by Marcelo Adorco, who worked for Espinosa. Adorco was arrested on July 8, 2016 during a drug buy-bust operation in Albuera, Leyte.

Apart from Lim, Espinosa and Adorco, named respondents included convicted drug lord Peter Co, alleged drug supplier Lovely Impal, Max Miro, Ruel Malindangan, Noel Jun Pepito, and 11 others, only known by their aliases Amang, Ricky, Warren, Tupie, Jojo, Jaime, Yawa, Lapi, Royroy, Marlon, and Bay.

Lim's co-accused Miro and Pepito died in separate incidents. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency