Makati RTC orders arrest of Peter Lim on drug raps

MANILAThe Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) on Tuesday ordered the arrest of businessman and alleged drug lord Peter Lim and others who were indicted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on drug charges filed by the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Acting Presiding Judge Gina Bibat-Palamos of the Makati RTC Branch 65 has issued an arrest warrant against Lim, along with self-confessed drug lord Rolan Kerwin Espinosa, Epinosa's arrested associate Marcelo Adorco, and Ruel Malindangan.

The respondents facing two counts of the non-bailable offense of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade in violation of Section 26(b) in relation to Section 5, Article II of Republic Act 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

After careful evaluation of the Information and the supporting evidence this Court finds that it has jurisdiction over the subject matter of the information and that probable cause exist to hold accused Peter Go Lim, Rolan Espinosa a.k.a. Kerwin, Marcelo Adorco and Ruel Malindangan for trial, read the order dated August 14.

Palamos also set the arraignment of all of the accused on Aug. 28 at 1:30 p.m..

Espinosa is in the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), while, Adorco is with the Philippine National Police (PNP) while Lim remains at large.

The prosecutors led by Navera, with members Anna Noreen Devanadera and Associate Prosecution Attorney Herbert Calvin Abugan last Monday filed a motion asking the same court to issue a hold departure order (HDO) against Lim.

In response to the DOJ's request, Palamos also issued another order yesterday setting the hearing this August 17 regarding the issuance of an HDO against Lim.

Apart from the two charges, state prosecutors filed charges against Espinosa, Adorco, and Malindagan, arrested alleged drug supplier Lovely Impal, and convicted drug lord Peter Co after the panel of prosecutors led by Navera found probable cause to indict them based on the complaint of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG).

The charges filed last July 25 are two counts of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade at the Manila RTC and one other count of the same violation at the Makati RTC.

Navera's panel is the second panel of prosecutors issued a resolution on Friday which declared that probable cause has been found to charge Lim and three others with two counts of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade in violation of Section 26(b) in relation to Section 5, Article II of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 on the complaint filed by PNP-CIDG.

The indictment of Lim, who underwent a separate probe at his request, came following the similar indictment of Espinosa, convicted drug lord Peter Co, Adorco, Malindangan, and Impal before a Makati court.

State prosecutors also found Lim's defense of not having the alias "Jaguar" as "immaterial", as both Espinosa and Adorco identified him in all of their illegal drug transactions.

"Furthermore, his alibi that he could not have possibly been in Thailand during the time attested by Adorco has to yield to the positive and affirmative statements of said witness," the DOJ statement read.

The panel reiterated that conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading is a distinct offense under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and that the agreement to trade in drugs is the essence of the offense.

The drugs themselves as corpus delicti, or drug trading are not essential under Section 26 (b) of law, it said.

The complaint filed by the PNP-CIDG was junked on Dec. 20, 2017 by the department, then led by secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, but was later reinstated.

On the other hand, Lim has previously filed a petition which is now pending before the Supreme Court (SC) asking that the second panel be stopped from conducting the preliminary investigation against him since the first panel has already issued the Dec. 20, 2017 resolution absolving him.

Regarding Lim's pending appeal at the SC, Navera believes that the resolution of the second panel will be upheld by the SC.

We are confident that we will be sustained. The Secretary of Justice (Aguirre) has the power to do so, he said. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency