MANILA, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors asked the court to issue a hold departure order (HDO) against Cebu-based businessman Peter Lim in connection with the two counts of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading that they filed last week.
"Peter Go Lim already has a history of frequently traveling [to] different countries, as well as the resources to seek refuge in another country. He is still at large since there is no warrant of arrest issued against him as of this writing," prosecutors said in a motion submitted on Monday, August 13, to the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 65.
"He is clearly a flight risk given his vast resources," the prosecutors added.
An HDO is typically issued by a court while it decides if there is probable cause to issue a warrant of arrest. An HDO would prevent the individual from flying out of the country.
There has been an existing immigration lookout bulletin order (ILBO) against Lim since July 2017, but an ILBO just requires monitoring a person's movement and cannot stop him from leaving the country.
Lim only appeared before the DOJ once in 2017 when Prosecutor Aristotle Reyes compelled him to personally subscribe to his affidavit, as required by procedures.
It was Reyes who cleared Lim the first time, but the investigation was revived following outcry, even from President Rodrigo Duterte himself.
Senior Assistant Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera was designated to head the new panel, and it was his panel that charged Lim last week.
Navera said Lim never attended any of his panel's hearings.
"We will be dealing with the immigration as well as the National Bureau of Investigation to make sure our resolution does not remain a paper resolution, that it becomes an indictment that is effective, that the court will be able to acquire jurisdiction over his physical person," Navera told reporters last Friday, August 10, after they filed the charges against Lim. (READ: Where is the NBI in the Peter Lim-Kerwin Espinosa investigation?)
"This motion is not intended to infringe upon the right to travel of accused Peter Go Lim but only for the reasons stated above," prosecutors told the Makati RTC.
Lim was charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading based on the testimony of Marcelo Adorco, who confessed to buying drug supplies from Lim for the group of his boss, Kerwin Espinosa.
Espinosa, who previously promised the government he would cooperate in exchange for witness protection, eventually clammed up. This prompted the police's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to request his withdrawal from the Witness Protection Program (WPP).
Espinosa previously told the Senate that he knows Lim to be a top drug supplier. – Rappler.com