Alleged drug lord Peter Lim had “gone missing” and has subsequently managed to slip out of the country, Interior Sec. Eduardo Año revealed in a radio interview last week.
According to Sec. Año, subordinates told him the Cebu-based fugitive businessman seems to have completely vanished from his usual hangouts and even from his residence, giving rise to speculations that he may have already left the Philippines through the southern back door.
Officials of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) were caught flatfooted by Año’s announcement, saying their records indicated no such “Peter Lim” had left the country recently.
His last recorded foreign trip was in 2017, Justice Sec. Menardo Guevarra said. “But we cannot really be sure as the country has an extensive coastline.”
Although a bit late in the day, Guevarra said he would file a request with the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) for Lim’s name to be included in its Red Notice, in the wake of Sec. Año’s disclosure.
Sec. Año’s shocking revelation naturally drew an angry retort from jailed Senator Leila de Lima who said Peter Lim’s escape from the clutches of Philippine justice only shows the “two-faced war on drugs” being waged by the Duterte administration.
From her jail cell in Camp Crame, De Lima said the drug war was bloody and harsh, but only for suspects who are poor or without connections.
De Lima – who is described as one of the staunchest critics of President Duterte – has been in jail since 2017, after being charged by the government with conspiracy to commit illegal drug trafficking (which is a non-bailable offense).
State prosecutors are intent on pursuing the case despite the fact that several government witnesses, who had testified against De Lima, have retracted their respective affidavits and denied her involvement in illegal drugs.
“They were quick to fabricate the evidence against me, while the case against Peter Lim which is based on substantiated proof was dismissed and he was even allowed to escape,” the senator was quoted in reports as saying.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) had accused Lim – who has a P500,000 bounty on his head since 2018 after a Makati court issued an arrest warrant against him – of supplying drugs to the so-called Espinosa drug syndicate (headed by Kerwin Espinosa) which operates in Regions 7 and 8 in the Visayas.
The DOJ alleged Lim had supplied huge amounts of shabu estimated in the billions of pesos to the Espinosa group between 2013-2015.
Kerwin Espinosa, it should be recalled, is said to be the son of the late Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. of Albuera, Leyte who had been linked by Mr. Duterte to the illegal drugs trade.
Mayor Espinosa was reportedly killed in November 2016 under highly questionable circumstances by PNP-CIDG agents during an alleged shootout in his detention cell.
At the time, policemen were allegedly “trying to serve a search warrant” on Espinosa while he was confined at the Baybay City sub-provincial jail.
Philippine National Police chief Guillermo Eleazar told the media he is ordering his men to check on the veracity of reports that Lim has flown the coop. “We do not have adequate information to validate this.”
Earlier reports claimed that Lim and his brother were allegedly donors to the Duterte presidential campaign in 2016.
Lim, who is listed in the order of battle of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), was also indicted by the DOJ for conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading.
Photo: Philippine Star