Where is Peter Lim?

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Alleged drug lord Peter Lim (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 11) — The Justice Department believes alleged drug lord Peter Lim is in the country.

In a text message to CNN Philippines Friday, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra revealed that Lim left for a "short trip abroad last March but returned after a few days," citing immigration records.

"So Peter Lim Go is supposed to be in the country," Guevarra said, without giving the Cebu-based businessman's exact whereabouts.

State prosecutors on Friday said they will file charges of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade against Lim before the Makati Regional Trial Court. His co-accused include self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, and several others allegedly involved in the selling and distribution of drugs from Makati City to certain areas in the Visayas.

Guevarra said he expects the panel of prosecutors to file an urgent motion asking the court to issue hold departure orders against the accused.  

Lim's location has been a mystery to the public since he skipped hearings on his drug cases at the Justice Department. He last showed up in August last year to submit his counter affidavit, insisting he was not involved in the Visayas drug trade.

But prosecutors on Friday ruled against Lim based on Espinosa's admission at a Senate hearing that he was a drug supplier.

The panel also dismissed Lim's denial that he was the "Jaguar" named by President Rodrigo Duterte as part of a Chinese triad, which is leading illegal drug operations in the Visayas.

Lim met with Duterte in Davao City in July 2016 to clear his name, saying the "Peter Lim" the President was referring to could be one of his many namesakes.

It was later revealed that Lim was Duterte's compadre (co-sponsor) in a wedding. The Palace then said it would be "unfair" to say it was because of this connection that Lim was earlier cleared.

The first set of prosecutors had dropped the charges against all the suspects for lack of evidence. The decision put the department in hot water, with President Duterte demanding why the case against Espinosa was dismissed despite his admission of guilt.

Then Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre ordered a reinvestigation before resigning from his post.

CNN Philippines' Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.