When President Rodrigo Duterte revealed his diagram of drug syndicates in the country on July 7, a certain “Peter Lim” was named as one of the top drug lords. He identified Lim, alias “Jaguar,” as the leader of the drug trade in the Visayas.
“Triad of the Visayas,” Duterte said. “Now, there was an earlier report that a certain Jaguar was killed in Cebu – or I do not know, for lack of information. But he’s dead, but he’s not the Jaguar that is the leader of the operation for the Visayas. He’s also inside the national penitentiary.”
Duterte then went on to warn that certain Lim and another name in the drug triad, Peter Co, “Do not escape from prison; you will die.”
The President also addressed Lim, who was believed to have gone out of the country at the time.
“If he has friends here, tell him, the moment he lands at NAIA, he will die,” Duterte said.
“Better tell him not to come back to the Philippines any more. The moment he steps out of the plane, he will die. That is my assurance to the people of the Philippines. How? It doesn’t matter,” he said.
But on July 16, Cebuano-Chinese businessman Peter Lim met with Duterte in Davao City.
But Duterte warned Lim that if it is indeed proven that he’s the Lim linked to drugs, he will be killed.
“I’m warning you that I will have you killed if I find something out,” Duterte told Lim in Bisaya.
There were some who argued that “Peter Lim” is quite a common name. In fact, it was reported that there are 400 Peter Lims in Cebu and around 4,000 Peter Lims in the entire country.
But the businessman Lim has admitted that he was the Peter Lim who was linked to drugs as he was subjected to a congressional inquiry in 2001. He was accused by two former employees of his business Hilton Heavy Equipment, along with his brother Wellington, that he was involved with drug trafficking. However, the same employees were killed in 2006 and 2011.
Duterte even asked Lim about the result of the inquiry, but the latter said nothing came out of it. The President then told the businessman to open his life, call the witnesses linking Lim to drugs, and deal with their confrontation.
After the meeting, Duterte advised Lim to go to the NBI, Solicitor General Jose Calida or Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre.”
Duterte also said, “We want to help you. Help us clear you. We are not here to pin down innocent citizens.”
According to PDEA Southern Mindanao director Adzhar Albani, Duterte let Lim go.
The battle against drugs and crimes has become a bloody one. The Philippine Daily Inquirer’s regularly updated Kill List noted that there were 312 reported deaths since May 10 and 265 deaths of suspected criminals since June 30, as of 12 noon of July 18.
So, the question was, why did Duterte let Lim live?
Malacañang could not answer this directly, but Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said that the Palace is not treating the war against drugs with double standard.
“The alleged drug lord Peter Lim has come out in the open. He [wants to clear] his name and he has expressed his intention to the President that he will do just that,” Andanar said during his interview with state-run radio station dzRV.
Andanar added, “The burden now is [on] Peter Lim and we do encourage the rest of the suspects to do the same.”
Reminded about Duterte’s threat to have Lim killed once he steps foot in the country, Andanar responded by saying, “Well, Peter Lim has already expressed his intentions to clear his name. Let’s leave it at that.”
“Let’s just wait until the final investigation comes out. Let’s just wait for Mr. Peter Lim’s evidence and what he can show to clear [his name of] this allegation,” Andanar said.
To those accusing Duterte of treating poor suspects from rich suspects differently, Andanar said, “Those questions have to be supported by facts, by empirical evidence. As far as we know, the operation of the Philippine National Police has always been in pursuit of those who are peddling and pushing drugs.”
Andanar also noted how Duterte is the only President who has named names of people in the illegal drug trade. As for the infamous diagram or matrix, the Communications Secretary revealed that he has seen it himself and more names of local officials will be expected to be revealed in the future.