Dela Rosa: Duterte ordered case build-up vs Peter Lim
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa on Monday, December 5, defended President Rodrigo Duterte from insinuations that he was protecting alleged Visayas drug lord Peter Lim.
Dela Rosa came to Duterte's defense at a Senate hearing, after Senator Antonio Trillanes IV showed photos of Duterte with Lim to illustrate how pictures should not be used as proof of one’s supposed ties to illegal drugs.
Trillanes was defending Senator Leila de Lima from speculation that a photo of her with supposed Eastern Visayas drug lord Kerwin Espinosa was proof that she solicited funds from him.
“Are we now ready to use pictures as a sign of guilt?” Trillanes asked during the Monday hearing, part of the ongoing Senate probe into the death of Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.
Although Trillanes belongs to the minority bloc and De Lima, the majority, they have been close allies in criticizing Duterte and his war on drugs. They are the President's fiercest critics in the Senate.
At the end of his presentation, Dela Rosa asked to be recognized to comment on the photos.
The PNP chief, appointed the day after Duterte took his oath as president, said he informed the Chief Executive about Lim upon confirmation that the Cebuano businessman was an alleged drug personality. An angry Duterte supposedly told him: “Trabahua. Kung musukol, patya (Work on a case against him. If he fights back, kill him).”
It was the same threat that Duterte himself made against 3 top Chinese drug lords – including Lim – when he bared his first list drug personalities.
Part of a ploy?
The June 25 photo of Duterte and Lim – principal sponsors at the wedding of the daughter of a prominent Cebuano businessman who supported Duterte's presidential bid – has been viral on social media for a while.
Trillanes said that if the photo alone can be considered proof, Duterte can be charged for having links to one of the country’s big time drug lords. In his affidavit, Espinosa said that he sourced his drugs partly through Lim.
In an interview with reporters after the hearing, Dela Rosa explained that even before Espinosa was nabbed in Abu Dhabi, the PNP chief went to Region 8 to “conduct an investigation.”
“Galit na galit si presidente. Sabi ko, 'Sir, 'yan 'yung nasa picture mo na kumpare mo. Nagpicture sa iyo. Sabi ko, 'yan, kumpirmado, Sir' (The president was very angry. I told him, 'Sir, that’s the person in the picture, your kumpare. I told him that’s confirmed, Sir')," recounted Dela Rosa.
Added Dela Rosa: “Pinapabayaan namin na maniwala ang taumbayan na talagang hindi siya drug lord but we have enough information coming from – aside from Kerwin, doon sa driver na hitman ni Kerwin, saka 'yung kapatid niya na bakla.”
(We let the public believe that he wasn’t a drug lord but we have enough information coming from – aside from Kerwin, from his driver and hitman, and also his gay brother.)
Dela Rosa said being chosen as sponsors at the same wedding was just a "coincidence."
“Hindi pinoprotektahan ni Presidente ang Peter Lim na 'yan, nagkataon lang naging ninong silang pareho sa ikakasal….Nang malaman na ni Presidente na ang kumpare pala niya ay confirmed drug lord, galit na galit siya,” Dela Rosa told reporters.
(The President is not protecting Peter Lim. It just so happened that they were both principal sponsors at a wedding. But when the President found out that his kumpare was a confirmed drug lord, he was very angry.)
Dela Rosa did not say when he visited Eastern Visayas to conduct an investigation. He did, however, visit Tacloban City in Leyte on September 13 to lead the PNP’s service anniversary in the region.
The result of the case build-up, which was tasked to the PNP's Anti-Illegal Drugs Group, is still unclear.
On July 7 or a week into his term, Duterte unveiled a drug matrix that linked a certain Peter Lim alias “Jaguar” to retired police deputy director general Marcelo Garbo Jr, whom Duterte had tagged as a “narco-cop.” who denied the allegation. This happened two weeks after the wedding where he and Lim stood as sponsors.
It turned out, however, that “Jaguar” or the alleged top drug lord in Cebu province, had been killed in a police operation on Jun 19, weeks before the Duterte administration began.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Lim, a Cebuano businessman, was still being investigated for alleged links to illegal drugs.
A little over a week after first tagging Lim as a drug personality, Duterte met with the Cebuano in Davao City. Duterte then told Lim to prove his innocence before the National Bureau of Investigation. Lim had been linked to illegal drugs before, as he was the subject of a congressional inquiry in 2001. – Rappler.com