CIDG turns anti-drug drive on businessman Peter Lim
CEBU CITY — Is businessman Peter Lim the next target?
Apparently so, as the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Central Visayas (CIDG-7) has started to go after the Chinese-Filipino businessman who was publicly identified by President Rodrigo Duterte as one of the country’s biggest drug lords.
Supt. Royina Garma, CIDG-7 director, said they have been conducting complete background and financial investigations on Lim upon the request of their higher-ups in Manila.
A subpoena will be sent to Lim within the week, mandating him to personally appear before the Department of Justice which has been spearheading the investigation against the controversial businessman.
If there are enough evidence against Lim, appropriate charges will be filed in court. Issuance of a freeze order to preserve the monetary instruments or property in any way deemed related to unlawful activities is also being considered by the CIDG.
Sought for comment, Lim’s lawyer Pedro Leslie Salva assured the public and the police that they would cooperate in the investigation since his client had nothing to hide.
“He (Lim) is a plain businessman. He is definitely not involved in illegal drugs. But as it is, we will obey what authorities will ask of us. We respect our authorities,” he said.
Aside from Lim, Garma said they have been investigating self-confessed drug lord Franz Sabalone, retired general and now Daanbantayan town Mayor Vicente Loot, former Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, Supt. Rex Derilo, Supt. George Ylanan, and some other police officials.
The personalities who are being investigated by CIDG-7 were on the drugs list that was turned over by intelligence officers to President Duterte in 2016.
So far, Garma said they had discovered some questionable properties acquired by Sabalones, Derilo, and Ylanan.
“I hope this will lead to the filing of charges against them. We have submitted our reports on these three personalities. It is all up to our superiors on what to do with them,” Garma told the Philippine Daily Inquirer over the phone on Sunday.
“There are no untouchables here. It is the people who are making them untouchable because of fear,” she added.
President Duterte earlier identified Lim as the biggest drug lord in the Visayas while Rama and Loot were included in the list of so-called narcopoliticians.
Rama and Loot, on the other hand, had strongly denied the allegations.
Ylanan and Derilo were responsible for the death of Diaz as well as big drug lords in Central Visayas shortly after Mr. Duterte announced his brutal campaign against drugs.
But Cebuanos were later surprised that they were among the 200 policemen in Central Visayas who were transferred to Mindanao on suspicion of their involvement in illegal drugs.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre later claimed that the Lim identified by the President was not the businessman Peter Lim known in Cebu, but Jeffrey “Jaquar” Diaz, Central Visayas’ biggest drug lord who was killed by Cebu police officials in a drug operation in Las Piñas City in June 2016.
But Garma said the Lim being alluded to by President Duterte was indeed the Cebuano businessman who owned several businesses in Cebu.
“There were issues that he’s not the one but it was eventually established that he’s the real Peter Lim,” she said.
Garma admitted that they have been having a hard time gathering evidence against Lim since people who had personal knowledge about the operations and transactions of the Cebu businessman were concerned about their safety.
Two former employees of Lim were killed several years after testifying against the businessmen during the congressional inquiry on illegal drugs in 2001.
Bernard Liu and Ananias Dy detailed the businessman’s involvement in illegal drugs during the congressional inquiry. Lim and his brother Wellington were later cleared.
Dy was shot dead by two unidentified men in July 2006 at the corner of Salvador and Katipunan Streets in Barangay Labangon, Cebu City.
Liu was already decomposing when found in his house in Talisay City in September 2011. A rope was tied around his neck and crude oil poured over his body
Garma said government offices in Cebu had been uncooperative and had refused to release documents pertaining to Lim’s business transactions.
“We have overwhelming intelligence reports against him (Lim) but people are scared to execute an affidavit,” Garma said.
She said they found out that Lim enjoyed police protection for several years before he was publicly identified by President Duterte as a drug lord. Based on their investigation, Garma said policemen even served as Lim’s bodyguard.
“He is more than (tycoons) Lucio Tan or Henry Sy when it comes to accommodating police officials in Cebu. He provides vehicles to them and gave them almost everything,” she said.
The police officials who were linked to Lim, she said, were already transferred outside Cebu.
Garma said they had requested the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Bureau of Immigration, and the Maritime Industry Authority for documents about Lim’s business transactions and travels.
But these government agencies, she said, refused to give the CIDG-7 Lim’s records due to secrecy policies of the office.
Garma appealed to witnesses to cooperate with them and help them in the investigation against Lim.
“I hope people who know the truth will come out and cooperate. This is our last chance to address the drug problem in our country. I think we will never have another president who is sincere in eliminating drugs. Let’s eliminate fear,” she said. SFM
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.