Lawyers lose contact with Peter Lim

MANILA, Philippines – The lawyers of Cebu-based businessman Peter Lim claimed that they are just as "clueless" as cops on where their client is.

Lim’s lawyers said In a statement sent on Wednesday night, August 22, that Lim “has not contacted them since the news broke out that drug charges were filed against him in court.”

Lim was charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade on August 10, after a year-long investigation and reinvestigation at the Department of Justice (DOJ). (READ: Is he top 'drug lord' Peter Lim? 9 things about the Cebu businessman)

It has been 9 days since the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 65 issued an arrest warrant against Lim, but police have yet to find him.

“The lawyers of Mr Peter Lim, who represented him at the Department of Justice, are themselves clueless where he is,” said the statement.

Lawyer Magilyn Loja appeared before the DOJ for Lim during the preliminary hearings, while lawyer Alex Francis Ver Lopez is the one named by the Makati RTC.

Lopez did not attend the first court hearing on August 17.

In the same statement, the lawyers urged Lim to surrender.

“They hope that Mr Lim voluntarily surrenders so trial can proceed so that he can prove his innocence," the statement said.

It added, "They are uncertain whether they will still be retained as counsel as they did not succeed in having the charges dismissed despite the weakness of evidence against him.” they said. (READ: What gov't key witness says about alleged Lim-Espinosa-Co drug network)

Cops struggle to find him

What the DOJ knows is that according to Bureau of Immigration (BI) records, Lim “left the country in March but returned a few days later.”

“No BI record of departure since then,” said Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra. There is now a Hold Departure Order against Lim.

On August 20, cops went to the two known addresses of Lim in Cebu, but he was nowhere to be found.

Asked why cops have yet to find Lim, Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said on Wednesday that the Lim has the resources and connections to evade authorities.

Unang-una, alam naman natin kung gaano kayaman ito, at kung ano ang network ng tao na ‘to (First of all, we know how rich he is, and what kind of a network he has), it’s a big challenge for us,” Albayalde said.

He also announced that they have the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, the police unit that specializes in high-profile chases, has been tasked to track down Lim.

Chinese linked to drugs

Lim was first investigated over his alleged drug links as early as 2002. Two other people accused with Lim and alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa  are now dead.

In the one year that his case was heard at the DOJ, Lim only showed up once, when he was compelled by the prosecutor. He never showed up during the reinvestigation.

Lim is the latest alleged "big fish" to evade arrest over drug charges. Four Chinese and two Taiwanese nationals charged in the P6.4-billion smuggled shabu case have been at large for 5 months now.

One of the 4 Chinese is Richard Chen or Tan, the shipment’s forwarder, who Senator Richard Gordon said could be the one "ultimately responsible" for the shabu shipment.  With reports from Rambo Talabong/Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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