Three years since the issuance of an arrest warrant against him, fugitive and accused drug lord Peter Lim remains at large, with different government agencies still uncertain as to whether he was hiding in the country or abroad.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra had to clarify on Tuesday, June 29, that Lim had been on the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) red notice since 2019.
“According to the Philippine Center for Transnational Crime, fugitive Peter Go Lim has been in the red notice list of the Interpol since March 2019, but still no info on his whereabouts,” Guevarra told reporters on Tuesday.
Guevarra made the clarification after he told reporters on Monday, June 28, that he believed “it’s about time” to put Lim on the red notice list. An Interpol red notice alerts the police worldwide about fugitives, and will be issued upon the request of the member country.
Lim is the Cebu-based businessman whom Duterte had publicly accused of being a drug lord at the start of his presidency. Lim went into hiding shortly after a Makati court ordered his arrest in August 2018.
Guevarra made the “it’s about time” days after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said that Lim might have already left the Philippines.
According to both Guevarra and Bureau of Immigration spokesperson Dana Sandoval, the BI has no record of Lim leaving the country.
Sandoval said Lim has many namesakes, including one who left the country recently, but “Mr. Peter Go Lim, the subject of news articles, has no recent departure record as of date.”
Could Lim still be in the country? “We cannot really be sure. Our country has a very extensive coastline. There are known backdoors in our southern borders,” said Guevarra, saying that Lim’s passport expired in 2019.
“I can only answer with regards to if he left via our airports or seaports,” said Sandoval.
Police chief General Guillermo Eleazar said on Monday, “I’ve given directives to the Directorate for Intelligence, Police Drug Enforcement Group, and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to check on that.”
Lim was earlier cleared of drug trade charges by an initial panel of Department of Justice prosecutors.
A public uproar prompted then-justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to void the first ruling and assemble a new panel of prosecutors, that eventually charged Lim. Aguirre resigned after.
The Supreme Court has affirmed the legality of the 2nd panel. – with a report from Jairo Bolledo/Rappler.com