Aguirre: Another mistake in Duterte drug matrix

MANILA, Philippines – In his first week in office, President Rodrigo Duterte showed he meant business in his fight against illegal drugs when he revealed a supposed matrix of drug personalities that included 3 alleged top Chinese drug lords.

Since Peter Co and Herbert Colanggo were already serving time at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, the President warned the other alleged Chinese drug lord – "Peter Lim alias Jaguar" who reportedly flew between China and the Philippines –  not to come home anymore as he would die if he did.

“Better tell him, ‘Do not come back to the Philippines anymore.’ The moment he steps out of the plane, he will die," Duterte announced on July 7.

"Jaguar" is allegedly the Triad member behind illegal drug operations in the Visayas and was said to be out of the country when the President made the exposé.

It turned out, however, that "Jaguar" had been dead nearly 3 weeks before the President's announcement, or before the Duterte administration took over. This was revealed by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, while fielding questions from reporters in an interview on Friday, September 30.

Responding to questions on Friday, Aguirre admitted that there was a "mistake" in that July drug matrix.

"Baka mali ang pagkasabi [sa drug matrix] kasi patay na (Maybe there was a mistake made [in the drug matrix] because he's dead).  At the time the drug matrix came out, talagang patay na si Jaguar (Jaguar was already dead) because it happened on June 19, before the President assumed office," Aguirre said.

"'Yung namatay sa Las Piñas noong June 19, 'yun ang talagang si Jaguar (The one who died in Las Piñas on June 19, that's the real Jaguar)," he added.

Aguirre was referring to Cebu's "top drug lord," Jeffrey "Jaguar" Diaz, who was killed in a police operation in Las Piñas on June 18.

The justice secretary said they confirmed that Diaz was the real Jaguar from a relative of Diaz. The relative, who was Diaz's bagman, surrendered to authorities after Diaz was killed, and is now under the Witness Protection Program of the Department of Justice. It was not clear, however, when the witness entered the program.

What about Peter Lim?

As for the "Peter Lim" included in the drug matrix and Cebuano businessman Peter Lim who denied his link with drugs, Aguirre said, "Maaaring kapangalan lang niya pero drug lord din siya (It's possible that they share the same name but he's also a drug lord)."

The justice secretary said the businessman is "still being investigated because he's also involved in drugs."

Lim sought a meeting with Duterte on July 19, a week after the Chief Executive's public warning, and told the President that he was neither Jaguar nor the top drug lord in the Visayas. The President told him to go to the National Bureau of Investigation and also to possibly "pass the office of Calida, SolGen, or Vit Aguirre in the justice [department]" to prove his innocence.

Lim submitted a two-page letter to the NBI and vowed to cooperate with authorities to clear his name.

It was the second reported mistake in a drug matrix released by the President himself.

Duterte had earlier apologized to several Pangasinan officials led by former governor now 5th District Representative Amado Espino Jr for being "negligent in counterchecking" another drug matrix where they had been mistakenly included. Rappler.com