DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/16 July) – A Cebu-based businessman named Peter Lim met with President Rodrigo Duterte Friday night at the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) regional office here to “clear up everthing,” claiming he is not the Peter Lim who is a member of the triad behind the trafficking of prohibited drugs in the country.
Duterte on July 7 named Peter Lim alias Jaguar, as a member of the triad operating in the Visayas Wu Tuan alias Peter Co operating in Luzon, and Herbert Colangco, whom he identified as “son-in-law” of the mayor of Ozamiz, in Mindanao.
Duterte advised Lim to submit himself to an investigation and directed him to go to Dante Gierran, chief of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre which he earlier referred to as Jose Calida, the Solicitor-General.
“Kung naa kay sala tiwasan ta gyud ka. Musiguro gyud ko. Itaga nimo na. Tapuson ta gyud ka. (If you have committed a crime, I will finish you off. I assure you. I swear. I will finish you off). I will execute you,” Duterte said in their 30-minute talk, mostly in Cebuano. A copy of the recording was sent out to reporters.
“Ako wala ko nag-order ug operation (I did not order an operation). I am declaring war against the (illegal) drug industry,” Duterte said.
Lim replied, “I am with you all the way gyud Mr. President.”
Duterte responded: “Maayo. (Good). So I will conclude nga dili ikaw nang Peter Lim nga giingon nga druglord” (that you are not the Peter Lim who is a druglord).
“I will not say Mr. President 100 per cent. I would say 500 %” that he is not the druglord, said Lim.
“Help us, help us clear you. Tulungan mo kami to clear you. We are not here to pin down the innocent,” said Duterte.
Duterte opened the conversation by asking if Lim was the person investigated by Congress years ago on the issue of illegal drugs. Lim said yes. Duterte asked what year. Lim replied “1997, dayon 2001 am not sure about the year.”
In a press conference Saturday noon, Regional Director Adzhar Albani of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said “what transpired last night is indeed we have Peter Lim surrendered to the President in our presence. That Peter Lim is the same Peter Lim in Cebu who was investigated by Congress in 2006 for alleged drug offense.”
“He is not yet off the hook,” Albani said.
Asked if the Lim who met with the President is in the PDEA’s rogues’ gallery, PDEA chief Isidro Lapena replied, “Yes he is. He is one of those druglords in the country. There are other groups,” he said, adding Lim’s “giving himself up” is “very good” for the anti-illegal drugs campaign.
Lapena also said other groups have given themselves up. “They saw the intensity of the campaign of the Duterte government against illegal drugs and we have other feelers that more will be coming up.”
“I think that’s the way that they should do or else they will face the force of the law against them,” he said.
Duterte told Lim he can bring his lawyer with him during the investigation. He said government will review the evidences against him, including the results of the congressional investigations.
Asked about the congressional findings on Lim, Lapena told reporters “I think that question is better addressed sa Congress.”
Asked if it was the first time for the PDEA and NBI to investigate Lim, Lapena, who assumed the post on June 30, replied, “ngayon lang daw.”
In his July 7 announcement, Duterte said Co is inside the national penitentiary but directs the traffic of drug operations in Luzon, Lim “is also inside a national penitentiary” and Colangco is also “inside the prison.”
He showed a matrix of the extent of operations of the illegal drugs trade and said that among those involved are police and “a mix of Chinese mayors, maraming mayors dito.” He did not name the local chief executives but added there are many mayors on the list including “mayors sa Mindanao,” among them a woman.
“Since they are beyond redemption, they can stop and commit suicide because I will not allow these idiots to run their show, not during my watch,” Duterte said in a statement aired over state-run PTV 4.
“Now, ito si Peter Lim, according to the Chief PNP, he goes in and out of the Philippines. Now, if he has friends here, sabihin mo sa kanya: the moment he lands at NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) he will die. He will die. Might as well because I’m sure the Chinese authorities are listening now. Better tell him. Do not come back to the Philippines anymore. The moment he steps out of the plane, he will die. That is my assurance to the people of the Philippines,” Duterte said.
He repeated his warning to the triad. “ I’m just warning these Peter Lim and Peter Co: Do no escape from prison. You will die. Colangco, never try to go out of prison. You will die. And, regarding Garbo, I think the DILG would take care of him. The other personalities in this matrix are persons of interest. Will they also die? I do not know.”
Duterte asked Lim late Friday if he was flying in and out of the Philippines. Lim replied he goes abroad with his family during the Holy Week.
Lim thanked Duterte for “giving me the chance, time and the chance to talk to you about the problem that I am having now.”
Duterte replied: “Ako, I will not say I’m sorry because the reason why naa ka diri is you are a suspected druglord. But I will consider your explanation,” as he reminded him again to submit himself to investigation. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)