P15.6 million shabu seized Tuesday traced to an inmate inside the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City. The new haul is
on top of the P194.7 million drugs recovered in CV in 2016
Despite the strict security imposed inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), some inmates may still have found means to call the shots in the country’s narcotics trade.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA-7) on Tuesday seized 2.4 kilos of shabu (methamphetamine) worth P15.6 million in a drug bust inside a subdivision in Barangay Calamba, Cebu City, and traced its source from an inmate inside the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City.
“The boss is inside Muntinlupa (prison),” said PDEA-7 Director Yogi Filemon Ruiz in an interview yesterday.
He refused to reveal the identity of the inmate while further investigation is being conducted.
The House of Representatives and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) have earlier conducted separate investigations into the illegal drug trade inside the NBP. Last November, the NBI even filed criminal complaints against several government officials led by Sen. Leila de Lima, and jailed drug lords over the alleged narcotics trade and payoffs inside the NBP during her stint as justice secretary. An NBI fact-finding panel found that De Lima allegedly accepted a “huge amount of money from NBP inmates,” an accusation the senator vehemently denied.
Ruiz said supplies of illegal drugs are still being produced in China and shipped to the Philippines and other countries at the start of the year.
“Historically, shabu are produced in China during the ‘ber’ months, so we expect more supplies to arrive in the country by January. They may be produced for the Sinulog (Cebu’s biggest crowd-drawing festival held every third week of January), Valentine’s Day and summer,” he said.
At past 6 p.m. last Tuesday, PDEA-7 agents arrested a female house help and two of her companions in a drug bust operation in Barangay Calamba, Cebu City. The suspects — Christie Diongzon, 37; Eduardo Ramos, 36; and Meralyn Monreal, 33 — denied involvement in the illegal drugs trade. However, PDEA-7 found out that the suspects have a contact inside NBP.
Another suspect, Danny Bao, eluded arrest while Diongzon’s alleged cohort Rene Christopher Scholtis was gunned down after he allegedly engaged the PDEA-7 agents in a shootout.
Scholtis, whose father is a German national, was brought to the Cebu City Medical Center where physicians tried to revive him, but he died 30 minutes later.
Charges for violating Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Act of 2002, particularly for selling prohibited drugs, will be filed against Diongzon and Bao before the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office today.
Ramos and Monreal, on the other hand, were cited for possession of illegal drugs.
At around 4 a.m. on Wednesday, Cebu City policemen also arrested a motorcycle rider in a checkpoint along Carlock Street in Barangay San Nicolas Proper for alleged possession of 50 grams of shabu valued at P590,000, and a .38 caliber revolver.
Based on the records of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), policemen have seized a total of 10,227.92 grams of shabu worth P104.7 million since the government launched its relentless campaign against illegal drugs in July 1 up to December 29, 2016.
PDEA-7, on the other hand, has seized a total of 90 kilos of shabu valued at P90 million last year, bringing to around P194.7 million the amount of drugs seized by the two law enforcement agencies by the end of 2016.
At least 4,306 drug suspects were arrested in police operations in the region and 153 others nabbed by PDEA-7.
Last December 29, PDEA-7 agents also confiscated P12 million worth of illegal drugs and arrested three persons in a drug bust in Barangay Poblacion I, Carcar City.
Last Tuesday’s P15.6-million drug haul is so far the first and the biggest operation conducted by a law enforcement agency in Central Visayas this month.
The seized drugs are kept inside well-secured vaults with three locks at the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory while cases against the suspects are tried by the trial courts, said Ruiz.
Once the cases are decided by the court, Ruiz said the seized items will be disposed of by flushing them down the toilet.
“Hopefully, by conducting continuous operations, we will be able to lessen the supply of illegal drugs in our region. If we lessen the supply, the price will increase, and when that happens, not many drug dependents will be able to buy these prohibited substances,” he said.
Ruiz said there are still a number of people who are engaged in the illegal drug trade despite the government’s relentless antidrug operations because drug addicts will always find ways to buy illegal drugs even if they do not have the money.
“All they want is drugs. They are not interested in eating or even taking a bath. They are addicted to the substance, and so they will do everything to buy illegal drugs,” Ruiz said.
“In the same manner, those into the illegal drug business will really gamble for easy money. We are talking about money here. There are really those who won’t stop despite our campaign against drugs,” he added.
Easy money, easy death
Ruiz nonetheless urged those involved in illegal drugs to stop or face the consequences of their actions.
“Please look for another hobby. You may want to try basketball or volleyball. Illegal drugs will bring you nowhere. You will end up either in the hospital or in the cemetery. If there is this so-called easy money, we also have what we call easy death,” the PDEA-7 director said.
Last year, Ruiz said they received an information regarding the illegal operations of Diongzon’s group in Barangay Calamba, Cebu City.
PDEA-7 transacted with Diongzon, a house help, since last October 2016, but the latter was very careful and would not entertain transactions for less than 100 grams of shabu, Ruiz said.
On Tuesday, at around 6 p.m., Diongzon finally fell into the trap set by the police who ordered 200 grams of shabu from her. The transaction was made at a house where Diongzon worked as house help.
But when Diongzon noticed that she was transacting with an undercover agent, one of her alleged cohorts, Scholtis, pulled out a gun and aimed at the PDEA operatives.
Ruiz said the agents did not wait for Scholtis to pull the trigger and instead shot the latter in the body in order not to risk the lives of the operatives.
“We did not want him to die. In fact, we immediately brought him to CCMC. But what can we do? He tried to aim his gun at us,” he explained.
Ruiz said the suspects are part of the JB Drug Group which operates in Barangay Calamba, Cebu City.
He refused to give further details about the drug syndicate, saying they will be conducting follow-up operations against its members.
Since July 1, at least 160 drug suspects were killed in police operations while 229 were gunned down by unknown assailants.
In a separate interview, Diongzon and the two other suspects, who are now held at the PDEA-7 stockade, denied the accusations leveled against them.
Diongzon said she was just cleaning the surroundings of her boss’ house at around 6 p.m. on Tuesday when the PDEA-7 agents arrested and forced her to board a van.
Diongzon, who has two children aged 17 and 14, said her husband was also arrested last December 13 for allegedly visiting a drug den and keeping shabu in a police operation at the Taboan Public Market.
“Nganong giapil man tawon mi ana (Why were we implicated in that kind of business?)?” Ramos said.
Monreal also insisted she did not know anything about what PDEA was accusing her of doing.