MANILA – Malacañang on Thursday denied claims that the Duterte administration’s war on drugs only targets suspects who are poor, stressing that detaining a lawmaker is “proof” that there will be no sacred cows.
This, after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Cebu-based businessman and alleged drug lord Peter Lim has left the country.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Department of Justice (DOJ) has no record of any recent departure of Lim, whose last recorded foreign travel was in 2017.
“Wala pang pormal na kumpirmasyon po ‘yan dahil ang sabi po ng ating Department of Justice na under po ang [Bureau of] Immigration e wala pa po silang record na nakalabas po si Peter Lim (There is no formal confirmation because according to the Department of Justice, the lead agency of the Bureau of Immigration, they have no record that Peter Lim has left the country),” Roque said in a press briefing in Iloilo City.
Roque assured that the DOJ is taking steps to ensure that police worldwide know about Lim’s whereabouts should he have gone abroad.
Earlier, DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Lim has been on the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol)’s red notice list since March 2019.
Guevarra, however, said he is not discounting the possibility that Lim might have slipped out of the country via the southern backdoor.
“Nasa watch list naman po ng Interpol itong si Peter Lim. At saka I’m sure po na gagawa ng hakbang ang DOJ to cancel his passport and to make sure that because he has no travel documentation that wherever he may be kung aborad man siya, maalerto yung mga receiving state kung nasasaan siya (Peter Lim is already on the watch list of the Interpol. I’m sure the DOJ will take steps to cancel his passport and to make sure that because he has no travel documentation that wherever he may be, if he’s abroad, receiving states will be alerted about his whereabouts),” Roque said.
Lim’s passport expired in 2019 and there is an active hold departure order issued against him in 2018.
Roque downplayed allegations that the Duterte administration failed to hold real big-time drug lords accountable.
“Wanted si Peter Lim. Wala po siyang kalayaan. Pangalawa po, nakakulong po si Senator Leila de Lima. Proof na hindi lang po mahihirap ang tinatarget dito sa war on drugs (Peter Lim is wanted. He has no freedom. Second, Senator Leila de Lima is detained. This is proof that it’s not only the poor who are targeted by the war on drugs),” he said.
De Lima has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center at Camp Crame in Quezon City since February 2017.
The government has insisted that de Lima is facing drug-related charges for her supposed role in the drug proliferation inside the national penitentiary when she was justice secretary.
Lim is allegedly one of the suppliers of another drug trafficker, Kerwin Espinosa.
Meanwhile, Roque said Malacañang will await the results of the investigation on kidnapping suspects who claimed they were police assets who earned as much as PHP500,000 for pinpointing drug offenders to the police.
‘Yan po ay illegal. But let me state na hindi po nila ina-allege na pulis sila. Sinasabi lang nila that they are police assets (That is illegal. But let me state that they do not allege that they are police. They are saying they are police assets). That’s an allegation. We’ll have to verify that. We’ll have to investigate. Napakadali po magsabi ng mga ganyang bagay. So antayin po natin ang resulta ng imbestigasyon (So easy to say things like that. So let us wait for the results of the investigation),” he said.
Reports showed that two unnamed suspects in the kidnapping of three men alleged as marijuana peddlers tagged policemen as masterminds of the abduction.
On June 8, the two suspects were arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for the kidnappings.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said the police would cooperate in the NBI probe into the abduction allegedly perpetrated by cops.
The suspects are under the NBI’s custody and would be placed under the government’s witness protection program. (PNA).