Wenceslao: Again, who is ‘Peter Lim’?

WAS he “Peter Lim” the big-time trader of illegal drugs, or was he not? That question was not answered when Cebuano businessman Peter Lim met President Rodrigo Duterte in Davao City last Friday. Duterte earlier identified a “Peter Lim,” alias “Jaguar,” as one of the three leaders of an illegal drugs syndicate operating in the country. Peter Lim, the businessman, felt alluded to because in 2004 he and his brother Wellington were subjects of a probe by a committee of the House of Representatives chaired by then congressman Antonio Cuenco.

I actually expected the President to confront Lim with the pieces of evidence that law enforcers gathered on his links to the illegal drugs trade, after all, their meeting was held at the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) 11 office. The President wasn’t able to do that. So the Cebuano businessman isn’t really the “Peter Lim,” alias “Jaguar,” that he threatened to kill weeks ago? One can’t be sure because Lim was told instead to prove his innocence.

So who is really this “Peter Lim,” alias “Jaguar”? If law enforcers cannot pin down Cebuano businessman Lim with proof on his links to the illegal drug trade, then “Peter Lim” should be one of the around a thousand people with the name “Peter Lim” in the country. But why was the President, when he named the country’s top drug traders, seemingly definite about who “Peter Lim” was? He even said that this “Peter Lim” was in China at the time he was speaking.

The agency or the persons that fed the President the information about “Peter Lim” should have known who this “Peter Lim,” alias “Jaguar,” is from among the about one thousand Peter Lims in the country. So why the seeming confusion now on whether the Cebuano Peter Lim is also “Peter Lim” the top drug lord? I think it is time for government to clear the air on the issue by telling the public who really is this “Peter Lim,” alias “Jaguar,” and showing proof.

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I am glad that President Duterte allowed sobriety to rule on the case of Cebuano businessman Peter Lim. This following the insistence of some sectors to treat Lim the way the police are treating ordinary suspected drug pushers, which is to kill them if given the chance. One cannot correct a wrong by committing another wrong. Just because ordinary suspected drug pushers are killed does not mean Lim should also be killed.

The President, despite the sometimes harsh words he hurled at Lim during their talk, ended up giving him the chance to prove his innocence. That’s fair enough. When death is the favored penalty for suspected criminals, the more should law enforcers be careful in pointing an accusing finger at anybody. A suspected criminal who is merely jailed can still be freed if he or she is eventually proven innocent. That’s not the case when a suspected criminal is killed.

I know this because I once lived in a milieu when killing was the norm. I say not all of those that government troops suspected to be insurgents and killed were really what they were believed to be. In much the same way that not all of those accused of being a part of the government’s counter-insurgency operation and killed were really what they were believed to be. But as they say, dead men tell no tales, so those killed could no longer prove their innocence.

Some police officers have become overly aggressive in the campaign against the illegal drugs trade. I just hope that in doing so they make sure that innocent persons do not become collateral damage.

(khanwens@gmail.com/twitter:@khanwens)
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