MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte met the Cebuano-Chinese businessman Peter Lim claiming not to be the top drug lord "Peter Lim" earlier identified as one of the new government's main targets in the war against drugs.
Duterte met Lim on Friday, July 15, at the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency office inside the Davao City Police Office compound. The video of the meeting was posted online by the Presidential Broadcast staff the following morning.
Lim has been accused of being a drug lord in the Visayas and was the subject of a congressional inquiry in 2001. Two of Lim's former employees testified that he and his brother Wellington were into drug trafficking. In 2006 and 2011, the employees were killed under mysterious circumstances. (READ: Is he top 'drug lord' Peter Lim? 9 things about the Cebu businessman)
This same Lim asked Duterte to help clear his name from these allegations.
"My family is in deep problem now. We are getting the threat," Lim is heard telling Duterte in the video.
Speaking in Bisaya, Duterte warned Lim that if he is able to get evidence that he is indeed a drug lord, he should be ready to face consequences.
"I'm warning you that I will have you killed if I find something out," the President says in Bisaya.
Was Duterte convinced that Lim is not a top drug lord?
At the end of the meeting, Duterte told Lim in a mix of English and Filipino: "Okay, so you are not the Peter Lim, but I said my suggestion is good. You go to the NBI or you might want to pass the office of Calida, SolGen, or Vit Aguirre in the justice [department]."
The President added, "We want to help you. Help us clear you. We are not here to pin down innocent citizens."
But when Lim got ready to leave, Duterte refused to shake his hand.
"I’m sorry I cannot shake your hand," said the President.
He also repeated his hardline stance against drug lords before saying it's not his job to prove Lim is innocent.
"Pero drug lord, talagang mainit ako. Pero diyan, hindi ko trabaho 'yan," said Duterte. (But I'm really cracking down on drug lords. But in proving innocence, it's not my job.)
Meanwhile Lim expressed his gratitude and complimented Duterte.
"Our nation is very lucky to have you. You're the only president who can save our nation. You really mean business," he said as his parting words.
Lim's visit comes a week after Duterte announced the names of 3 Chinese drug lords, including a Peter Lim, who supposedly leads the Triad's Visayas drug trafficking operations.
Revealing the identities of these drug lords, as well as 5 police generals supposedly protecting drug syndicates, is part of Duterte's nationwide campaign against drugs.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.