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DOJ starts preliminary probe on drug charges against Lim

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By Rey Panaligan

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday started its preliminary investigation on the drug charges filed against Cebu-based businessman Peter Lim for alleged illegal drugs trade in Central Visayas.

Secretary of Justice Vitalliano Aguirre gives a message during the General Assembly of Prosecutors League of Manila, Inc. at Manila Pavilion in UN Avenue corner Orosa St, Manila on Friday. (JAY GANZON)

Department of  Justice (DOJ) Secretary of Justice Vitalliano Aguirre  (JAY GANZON/Manila Bulletin)

Lim, however, did not appear in the first hearing and instead sent his lawyers to receive the copy of the complaint and other documents on the charges filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

DOJ Assistant state prosecutors Aristotle Reyes and John Michael Humarang gave Lim until August 24 to file personally his counter-affidavit.

Aside from Lim, also charged before the DOJ were Kerwin Espinosa, a self-confessed drug lord, National Bilibid Prisons (NBP); and inmates Peter Co, Marcelo Adorco, Max Miro, Lovely Adam Impal, Ruel Malindangan and Jun Pepito.

They were charged with the sale, administration, dispensation, trading, delivery and transportation of illegal drugs under Republic Act 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

Espinosa attended Monday’s hearing at the DOJ.

During last year’s Senate inquiry into the illegal drugs trade at the NBP, Espinosa tagged Lim as the supplier of the prohibited drugs in Central Visayas.

Lim’s lawyer Majilyn Loja said her client would reiterate in his counter-affidavit that there was mistaken identify.

“He (Lim) is not that person. He has always denied it. In fact, he presented himself (before the National Bureau of Investigation earlier) saying that he is not the alias Jaguar,” Loja told journalists covering the DOJ.

 “He will be here to face the charges against him,” she said.

Records showed that Lim surrendered to President Duterte last year after his name was mentioned as among those behind the narcotics trade in the country. Lim denied any involvement in the illegal drug trade.

On the other hand, Espinosa — son of slain drug lord Mayor Rolando Espinosa — is under government’s witness protection program after his testimony in the drug charges against the now detained Sen. Leila de Lima.

Co, on the other hand, is a high-profile inmate in the NBP, while Impal was arrested last January by agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

Earlier, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II had said Espinosa may be accepted as state witness against Lim and several other persons if he (Espinosa) would decide to execute an affidavit that would detail Lim’s participation in the illegal drugs trade and, thus, may get immunity from prosecution.

If Espinosa is qualified to be a state witness, he can be discharged as an accused before the actual trial or during the trial of the case, Aguirre said.

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