CIDG STEPS UP PROBE OF DRUG LORDS ON DUTERTE LIST
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 Duterte as one of the country’s biggest drug lords.
Supt. Royina Garma, CIDG-7 director, said background and financial investigations on Lim had been requested by higher authorities.
A subpoena will be sent to Lim within the week, directing him to appear before the Department of Justice.
If warranted, Lim will be charged in court. Issuance of a freeze order on assets deemed related to unlawful activities is also being considered by the CIDG, Garma said.
Lim’s lawyer, Pedro Leslie Salva, said his client had nothing to hide.
“He 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.
Garma said her office was also investigating confessed drug lord Franz Sabalones, 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 being investigated by CIDG-7 were on the list that was turned over by intelligence officers to Mr. Duterte last year.
So far, Garma said, investigators had uncovered 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 what to do with them,” Garma told the 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.
Mr. 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 have denied the allegations.
Ylanan and Derilo were allegedly responsible for the death of Jeffrey “Jaguar” 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.
The real deal
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II claimed that the Lim identified by the President was not the Cebu businessman but Diaz, Central Visayas’ biggest drug lord who was killed by the police in a drug operation in Las Piñas City in June 2016.
But Garma insisted that the Lim being alluded to by the President was the Cebuano businessman.
“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 were 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 for 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 had 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 in 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 Lim enjoyed police protection for several years before he was publicly identified by Mr. Duterte as a drug lord.
Garma said policemen even served as Lim’s bodyguard.
The police officials who were linked to Lim, she said, had been transferred outside Cebu.
Garma said government offices in Cebu were uncooperative.
“We have overwhelming intelligence reports against him (Lim) but people are scared to execute an affidavit,” she said.
She said the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Bureau of Immigration, and the Maritime Industry Authority had been asked to provide 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.
“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.
WEDDING SPONSORS President Duterte and Cebu businessman Peter Lim, who is suspected to be a drug lord, are shown in this photo taken from the Facebook account of Facts Against Ignorance during the wedding of Israeli expatriate Yuri Ofek and Beatrice Borja in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu province, on June 25, 2016.