THE resolution dismissing the drug charges against Cebuano businessman Peter Lim and self-confessed druglord Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr. by the Department of Justice (DOJ) has raised the eyebrows of some citizens and netizens. That is expected because Mr. Lim is perceived to be a ‘big fish’ in the illegal drug trade. That is, if he is indeed into the said illegal activity.
People tend to be judgmental. They compare Lim’s situation to others, especially the “small fries” already arrested or killed in line with the present administration’s war on drugs. Others would say that Lim is untouchable because he is rich and has strong connections. He and President Rodrigo Duterte are “kumpare,” as both were wedding sponsors of the daughter of a Cebuano businessman two years ago.
A few months after Duterte assumed the presidency, Lim visited him in Davao City and was told by the president in front of the national media to clear himself because if he is really a drug lord, he will have him killed. There are around 4,000 Peter Lims in the country. Imagine the trauma, anxiety and shame suffered by Lim and his family.
It’s good that the case didn’t reach the court. Why? Because it will not fall under the double jeopardy principle. Law enforcement agencies can refile the same case against him in the future if evidence warrant. Had prosecutors insisted on filing the case in court, they would have wasting their time.
But Lim is not yet off the hook. The recommendation of the panel of prosecutors is still subject for automatic review by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre and he can reverse the recommendation.
The recommendation was dated Dec. 20, 2017 but was only made public now. Who knows that by now Aguirre or the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) have uncovered new pieces of evidence that would warrant the filing of charges?
For Lim and other people similarly situate, it’s a continuing agony. Because even if they are cleared by a government investigating agency, the tag of being a drug lord will still hound them and their families. They cannot fully enjoy life especially now that there are shortcuts in eliminating suspected drug personalities.
Look at what happened to the Parojinogs in Ozamiz City and to Albuera, Leyte mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. Other suspected drug personalities like Iloilo mayor Jed Mabilog and Franz Sabalones have fled the country.
If you are tagged as such, even your friends and relatives will distance from you. Would you like to live in that kind of situation even if you have lots of money? I know that Lim is living in that kind of situation.
Being tagged a drug lord is not new to Lim. In 2000, he was investigated by the House committee on illegal drugs chaired by then Cebu City south district congressman Tony Cuenco. The committee didn’t find enough basis to link him to the illegal drugs business. This even if the witnesses against him were his trusted men, Ananias Dy and Bernard Liu. They later died under mysterious circumstances.
Even if Lim is cleared by DOJ in this case, I am sure a similar case will resurrect in the future. Ingna kog bakakon. Magbalik-balik na gyud ni hangtod sa hangtod. Ihangad na lang gyud ning tanan ni Lim sa Ginoo.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on March 14, 2018.
Latest issues of SunStar Cebu also available on your mobile phones, laptops, and tablets. Subscribe to our digital editions at epaper.sunstar.com.ph and get a free seven-day trial.