By Jeffrey Damicog
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has ordered the filing of drug charges against Cebu-based businessman and alleged drug lord Peter Lim along with three others.
Acting Prosecutor General Richard Anthony Fadullon told reporters that a panel of prosecutors chaired by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera has issued a resolution today, August 10, which declared that probable cause has been found to indict Lim and his co-accused.
Because of this, the DOJ will file before the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) the charge of 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, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Fadullon said included in the charges are self-confessed drug lord Rolan “Kerwin” Espinosa; Espinosa’s arrested associate Marcelo Adorco; and Ruel Malindagan.
Navera explained that the charges involve drug transactions made in Makati City where Lim agreed to supply Espinosa with illegal drugs. Navera’s panel is the second panel to conduct the preliminary investigation of the complaint filed by Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) against the four as well as convicted drug lord Peter Co.
“The positive identification of Adorco, the admission of Kerwin Espinosa as to their dealings with Peter Go Lm. Those are basis of our probable cause determination against all of them, not just Peter Go Lim,” Navera told reporters.
“We utilized the interlocking confessions of both in order to determine whether we have probable cause against Peter Go Lim,” he reiterated.
Though Lim had insisted he is not the drug lord known as Jaguar, Navera pointed out that it is immaterial since “it is the positive identification that is important not the use or misuse of the alias Jaguar.”
Aside from the charges, on July 25, two counts of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade were filed before the Manila RTC and one another count of the same violation was filed against Espinosa, Co, Adorco, Impal and Malindagan after the second panel found probable cause to indict them based on the complaint of the PNP-CIDG.
It can be recalled that the first panel—composed of Assistant State Prosecutor Michael John Humarang and former Assistant State Prosecutor and now Judge Aristotle Reyes—issued a resolution dated Dec. 20, 2017 which dismissed the complaint due to the weak evidence since the PNP relied only on the inconsistent statements of Adorco.
Navera explained the difference in the resolutions between the second and first panels was due to the pieces of evidence which were made available.
“During the first panel there were pieces of evidence that were not submitted. And also pieces of evidence that were submitted to the second panel were the crucial pieces of evidence. That’s why we found probable cause,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lim has previously filed a petition which is now pending before the Supreme Court (SC) asking the second panel be stopped from conducting the preliminary investigation against him since the first panel has already issued a resolution absolving him.
Lim pointed out in his petition that then Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II was forced to create the second panel in March and ordered the resolution of the first panel “vacated” due to public outrage.
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.