MANILA Cebu-based businessman and alleged drug lord Peter Lim was a no-show in Thursday's preliminary investigation conducted by the new panel of prosecutors of the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the drug complaint filed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) against him, self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, and several others.
Lim, however, was represented by his lawyer Magilyn Loja. Present in the hearing are Espinosa and arrested alleged drug dealer Marcelo Adorco.
The panel, composed of Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, Assistant State Prosecutor Anna Noreen Devanadera and Prosecution Attorney Herbert Calvin Abugan, told the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to submit comment on Lim's motion to conduct a separate preliminary investigation on the illegal drug raps lodged against him and his co-respondents on April 17.
Likewise, Lim's lawyers were given until April 23 to file their reply to the comment of the PNP.
The PNP was supposed to submit their evidence on Thursday but manifested that they be given more time to submit additional evidence.
Navera granted the request of PNP-CIDG to submit additional evidence on April 30.
Apart from Lim, Espinosa and Adorco, those who have been named as respondents in the complaint were convicted drug lord Peter Co, alleged drug supplier Lovely Impal, alleged drug dealer Marcelo Adorco, 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.
The camp of Lim already filed before the Office of the Secretary of Justice a motion which sought to uphold the December 20, 2017 resolution issued by a panel of prosecutors who dismissed the complaint due to weak evidence.
Former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II made the move after being criticized when a previous DOJ panel dismissed the drug complaint filed by the PNP-CIDG-MCIU.
Aguirre explained in his order that he gave the directive pursuant to his powers as then justice secretary provided under Republic Act 10071 (Prosecution Service Act of 2010) in relation to DOJ Department Circular No. 004 dated January 4, 2017) regarding automatic review of criminal complaints.
In Lim's motion, he also challenged the March 19 order of Aguirre which directed that the December 20, 2017 resolution be vacated and the case be remanded to a new panel of prosecutors for the continuation of the preliminary investigation.
In his motion, his lawyers pointed out 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, read his motion.
The reopening of this case for further reception of evidence, after its dismissal due to insufficiency of evidence, reeks of bias and prejudice against Mr. Lim, the lawyers stressed.
Sought for a comment, newly appointed Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that he has yet to read Lim's motion.
I have not seen it, but I'll surely act on it, Guevarra said.
Under 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 Adorco who was arrested on July 8, 2016 during a drug buy-bust operation in Albuera, Leyte. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency