MANILA—Suspected drug lord Peter Lim could have already left the Philippines, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said, as government continued to hunt down illegal-drug syndicates.
The justice department earlier indicted Lim for conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading, along with self-confessed "shabu" distributor Kerwin Espinosa, Marcelo Adorco, and Ruel Malindangan.
The government has since put a P500,000 bounty for his arrest in 2018.
"Iyong isa pang hinahanap natin si Peter Lim. Nawawala na rin ito at ang tingin natin, nakalabas ng country. Ito iyong mga sinasabi natin na talagang directly connected to our national security," Año said in an interview on Teleradyo on Monday when asked about the status of government operations against big-time syndicates.
(One of the people we are still looking for is Peter Lim. He is missing and we think he already left the country. These are the things that we think is directly connected with our national security)
He also pointed out that manhunt operations are still ongoing, and that the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) conducts a monthly meeting on the matter.
"Kami naman ay nagmi-meeting every month . . . At pinag-uusapan natin iyan. Marami tayong nakuhang high-level at middle-level na mga drug pesonalities. 'Yung iba naman kasi ay di nare-report sa media," he added.
(We have monthly meetings where we discuss these things. We already caught high-level and middle-level drug personalities, but some were not reported to the media)
"Ongoing pa rin ang mga operations natin sa mga utak niyan, at sa ibang mga suspected na utak niyan. Kung titingnan mo naman ay wala na sa country, at iba ay nagtatago."
(We continue to look for the masterminds behind the illegal drugs trade. Some have already left the country; some are hiding.)
The Department of Justice had accused Lim of supplying at least 90-kilos of shabu to the so-called Espinosa drug group in Regions 7 and 8 in 2013 and 2015. Separate drug transactions also allegedly took place, with an unspecified volume of shabu, in 2014.
President Rodrigo Duterte, whose flagship domestic policy is a subject of a possible investigation before the International Criminal Court, told Lim in 2019 “never surrender to me alive.”
— With reports from Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News