Peter Lim wants separate initial probe on drug case

MANILA Cebu businessman and alleged big-time drug lord Peter Lim has asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct a separate preliminary investigation on the illegal drug raps lodged against him and his co-respondents, a week before the start of the preliminary probe into the police's drug complaint.

Considering that he is being charged with a non-bailable offense, and in order to prevent undue prejudice to him, Mr. Lim respectfully requests that this Panel of Prosecutors conduct a separate preliminary investigation against him to fully protect his constitutional right to due process, read his ad cautelam motion filed Friday.

In this regard, Mr. Lim is concerned that his defenses and the obvious lack of evidence against him might not be given due attention in view of the number of respondents and transactions involved in the case, it added.

Worse, his defenses might not only be glossed over and overshadowed as this Panel of Prosecutors may concentrate on the defenses raised by the other respondents, the motion stated.

Apart from Lim, those who have been named as respondents in the complaint were self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, convicted drug lord Peter Co, alleged drug supplier Lovely Impal, arrested alleged drug dealer Marcelo Adorco, Max Miro, Ruel Malindangan, Noel Jun Pepito, and several others who are only known through the aliases Amang, Ricky, Warren, Tupie, Jojo, Jaime, Yawa, Lapi, Royroy, Marlon, and Bay.

Meanwhile, Lim's co-accused Miro and Pepito were killed in separate incidents.

Based on the returned subpoenas received by the DOJ, it confirmed that Miro died last March 10 in a police operation conducted by the Ormoc Police in Barangay Bantigue, Ormoc City, while Pepito was killed by unidentified riding-in-tandem suspects in Albuera, Leyte on Dec. 1, 2017.

The criminal complaint filed by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group's Major Crimes Investigation Unit (PNP-CIDG-MCIU) before the DOJ accused Lim and his co-respondents 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 (RA) No. 9165, also known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

A new panel of prosecutors, composed of Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, Assistant State Prosecutor Anna Norren Devanadera, and Prosecution Attorney Herbert Calvin Abugan, is set to start its preliminary investigation into the drug complaint at 1 p.m. on April 12.

Former justice chief Vitaliano Aguirre II said the new panel of prosecutors is empowered to continue the preliminary investigation on the cases against the two alleged drug kingpins.

He made the move after being criticized when a panel of prosecutors of the DOJ issued the Dec. 20, 2017 resolution that dismissed the drug complaint filed by the PNP-CIDG-MCIU.

The resolution dated Dec. 20, 2017 dismissing this instant case be vacated and the above-mentioned 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, read Aguirre's order dated March 19.

The former justice secretary indicated in his order that he gave the directive pursuant to his powers provided under RA 10071 (Prosecution Service Act of 2010) in relation to DOJ Department Circular No. 004, dated Jan. 4, 2017 regarding the automatic review of criminal complaints.

The measure, Aguirre said, would allow the parties, including the CIDG, to submit additional evidence in support of their respective positions.

The resolution, made by Assistant State Prosecutors Michael John M. Humarang and Aristotle M. Reyes, recommended the dismissal of the case against Lim, Espinosa, Co, Adorco, Miro, Impal, Malindagan, Pepito, and several others known only by their aliases.

The resolution, affirmed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Rex F. Gingoyon and approved by acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan, cited the lack of evidence and supposed inconsistencies in the testimony of Espinosa's aide, Adorco, the lone witness cited in the CIDG complaint.

The CIDG maintained that any inconsistency on the part of Adorco was minor and did not affect the testimony on material points proving Espinosa's liability.

The police said Espinosa conspired with several drug couriers and shabu suppliers Lim, Co, and Impal, to sell and distribute drugs from Makati City to selected areas in central and eastern Visayas.

While maintaining that the dismissal was not the final verdict on the case, Aguirre and the original panel have said it was not the DOJ prosecution's duty to gather evidence for either the complainant or the respondents. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency