Thursday, September 20, 2018

Tracker teams sent after Peter Lim as court issues HDO

Peter Go Lim (File Photo)

POLICE on Friday, August 17, appealed for information about Cebu businessman Peter Go Lim as tracker teams were deployed to hunt down the accused drug lord and a local court issued a Hold Departure Order (HDO) to prevent him from leaving the country.

The tracker teams from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) were deployed after the Makati City Regional Trial Court issued on Tuesday, August 14, a warrant for Lim's arrest, said Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Oscar Albayalde.

The same court issued on Friday, August 17, a hold departure order based on the request of government prosecutors, who had argued that Lim is a flight risk considering he has the resources to travel and has been in and out of the country.

Albayalde said a tracker team has been sent to Cebu, Lim’s hometown and last known address.

Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin, NBI spokesperson, said regional commanders have also been tapped to help find and arrest Lim.

Speaking to Palace reporters Friday, PNP spokesperson Police Senior Superintendent Benigno Durana Jr. appealed to the public to come forward with any information on the whereabouts of Lim.

"We have tracker teams actually running after him. And that's why we appeal to the public, if you have any information that would lead to the whereabouts of Peter Lim, we'll be happy to look into it," Durana said.

"You know, we only have tracker teams. But if we pool our resources, the general public will help us, we can put Peter Lim before the bar of justice," he added.

Both Durana and Lavin said they have not received information that Lim is already out of the country.

"So far, wala pa naman kaming information na lumabas siya [ng bansa]," Durana said.

(So far, we have not received information that he's already out of the country.

Citing the Bureau of Immigration, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Lim left the country sometime in March, but returned after a few days.

There is no record of Lim leaving the Mactan Cebu International Airport recently.

Hold Departure Order

Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 65 acting presiding judge Gina Bibat Palamos, in a Hold Departure Order issued against Lim Friday, said the order "shall remain effective until otherwise ordered and cancelled by the court."

Lim stands charged for two counts of violation of Section 26(b) - conspiracy - in relation to Section 5 - sale, trading administration, etc of dangerous drugs - of Article II of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Government prosecutors filed the information against Lim, self-confessed drug personality Rolan “Kerwin” Espinosa, his driver-bodyguard Marcelo Adorco, Ruel Malindangan and several John Does on August 10.

Espinosa is currently detained at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Detention Center while Adorco has been admitted to the government's witness protection program. Malindangan is also at large.

The charges were based on a complaint filed against Lim, Espinosa and others by the CIDG Major Crimes Investigation Unit (MICU).

The complaint was initially dismissed in December 2017, after the CIDG failed to cite the testimonies of Espinosa and Adorco during a Senate inquiry.

Adorco had identified Lim as Espinosa's supplier of illegal drugs.

The dismissal of the complaint drew President Rodrigo Duterte's ire and sparked widespread criticism, prompting then Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to overturn the resolution and form a new panel to reinvestigate the complaint.

The new panel of prosecutors indicted Espinosa and the others on July 19.

Lim, who had sought a separate preliminary investigation, was indicted for conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading on August 10.

The indictment came two years after President Duterte first named Lim as a drug lord operating in the Visayas. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo and Ruth Abbey Gita / SunStar Philippines)