DOJ wants hold departure order issued vs. Peter Lim

MANILA — Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said state prosecutors will ask the Makati City Regional Trial Court to issue a hold departure order (HDO) against businessman and alleged drug lord Peter Lim, who has been indicted on the case filed by the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Guevarra said based on the information provided by the Bureau of Immigration (BI), Lim has returned to the country after a trip abroad.

“Per BI records, he left for a short trip abroad last March but returned after a few days. So Peter Go Lim is supposed to be in the country,” Guevarra said in text message sent to reporters on Saturday.

Guevarra said a panel of prosecutors chaired by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor (SASP) Juan Pedro Navera issued a resolution on Friday which declared that probable cause has been found to charge Lim and three others with 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 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

“I expect our prosecutors to file an urgent motion for the issuance of hold-departure orders against all the accused as a matter of course,” Guevarra said.

Apart from Lim, among those indicted before the Makati RTC include self-confessed drug lord Roland “Kerwin” Espinosa, Espinosa’s arrested associate Marcelo Adorco, and Ruel Malindagan.

Apart from the charges, last July 25, state prosecutors filed charges against Espinosa, Co, Adorco, and Malindagan and arrested alleged drug supplier Lovely Impal after the panel of prosecutors led by Navera found probable cause to indict them based on the complaint of the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG).

The charges filed include two counts of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade at the Manila RTC and one other count of the same violation at the Makati RTC.

Navera’s panel is the second one to conduct the preliminary investigation of the complaint filed by PNP-CIDG against the six drug personalities.

In a resolution, the prosecution panel, composed of Navera, SASP Anna Noreen Devanadera, and Prosecution lawyer Herbert Calvin Abugan, found probable cause to charge Lim with conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading.

The indictment of Lim, who underwent a separate probe at his request, came following the similar indictment of Espinosa, convicted drug lord Peter Co, Adorco, Malindangan, and Impal before a Makati court.

State prosecutors also found Lim’s defense of not having the alias “Jaguar” as “immaterial”, as both Espinosa and Adorco identified him in all of their illegal drug transactions.

“Furthermore, his alibi that he could not have possibly been in Thailand during the time attested by Adorco has to yield to the positive and affirmative statements of said witness,” the DOJ statement read.

The panel reiterated that conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading is a distinct offense under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and that the agreement to trade in drugs is the essence of the offense.

“The drugs themselves as corpus delicti, or drug trading are not essential under Section 26 (b) of law,” it said.

The complaint filed by the PNP-CIDG was junked on Dec. 20, 2017 by the department, then led by secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, but was later reinstated.

On the other hand, Lim has previously filed a petition which is now pending before the Supreme Court (SC) asking that the second panel be stopped from conducting the preliminary investigation against him since the first panel has already issued the Dec. 20, 2017 resolution absolving him.

Lim pointed out in his petition that then Justice Secretary Aguirre was forced to create the second panel last 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.

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 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 said.

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.” (