DRUG SUPPLY LEADS TO CPDRC AGAIN

By Cris Evert B. Lato-Ruffolo, King Anthony Perez, Morexette B. Erram |February 27,2018 - 11:05 PM

(CDN file photo)

Another arrest — a man who claimed to be a tour guide in the southern Cebu town of Badian — pointed to the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) as the source of illegal drugs.

The revelation of suspect Willard Capacio, 36, brought attention anew to persistent allegations that some drug peddlers source their supply from some prisoners operating from inside the CPDRC.

Capacio was arrested in Badian town on February 26 (Monday) afternoon in a buy-bust operation conducted by the Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) of the Badian Police Station.

The arrest yielded four small packs of shabu (crystal meth) worth P2,000 and P500 marked money.

Capacio claimed to be a tour guide operating in Barangay Matutinao, Badian town, located 102 kilometers southwest of Cebu City. Badian is known for its canyoneering activities and Kawasan Falls.

The Municipal Council of Badian has already denied that Capacio is an accredited canyoneering guide in a statement posted by Councilor Mark Andrew Jorolan.

Senior Insp. Bonifacio Pareja Jr. said Capacio told them that he obtained his drug supply from a CPDRC inmate. However, Capacio did not provide the name of the prisoner who supplied him with illegal drugs.

Pareja said they were now coordinating with the Provincial Intelligence Branch (PIB) of the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) to determine if Capacio’s claim was true.

“We also confiscated a cellphone containing text messages from the alleged supplier. But we cannot give further details since it has been forwarded to the PIB. We also do not want to preempt our follow-up investigations,” Pareja told Cebu Daily News on Tuesday.

The Badian police had been monitoring Capacio since January 2018 after receiving an anonymous tip from a resident in Barangay Matutinao that he was peddling illegal drugs in the area.

“We conducted a validation for the next three weeks before our drug enforcement unit arrested him. But during our validation, we started to receive numerous complaints about his activities,” Pareja explained.

The suspect is currently detained at the Badian Police Station and will be facing charges for violating Sec. 5 of Republic Act (RA) 9165 before the Cebu Provincial Prosecutors Office today (February 28).

Jail management

CPDRC, which first became operational in 2004 during the administration of former governor and now Cebu Third District Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia, was designed to accommodate 1,400 prisoners. However, the December 2017 population count revealed that it now houses 3,691 inmates, double its capacity.

The detention facility rose to fame from 2006 to 2008 as the home of the dancing inmates.

It is now marred with issues such as jail guards conniving with inmates and criticisms from Garcia over incumbent Gov. Hilario Davide III’s alleged ineptness in keeping things in order.

In October 2017, 10 jail guards and two jail personnel accused to be in cahoots with those smuggling contraband and prohibited drugs into the jail were placed under a 30-day preventive suspension by Davide . They resumed work by Nov. 13, 2017 but remained under investigation by the Capitol’s Committee on Discipline and Investigation (CODI).

Also in 2017, five major and one minor greyhound operations yielded illegal drugs such as methamphetamine (shabu), prescription drugs and drug paraphernalia; electronic gadgets such as mobile phones, DVD players, tablets and laptops; cash, a passbook containing at least P300,000 and bank transaction receipts; and tally sheets of Suertres and lists of code names, number combinations and bet money.

Garcia, in September 2016 and March 2017, delivered separate speeches at the House of Representatives criticizing the “gross mismanagement and administration of CPDRC.” She described the jail situation as “deeply troubling and frustrating developments.”

It was Garcia’s brother, Byron, as CPDRC warden and Capitol security consultant, who spearheaded the general rehabilitation program of the prison, which resulted to the Cebu Dancing Inmates gaining international fame.

This fame has, however, been overshadowed by allegations of a drug trade being operated from inside the jail.

At present, among those detained in the province-ran penitentiary are high-profile inmates such as Joavan Fernandez, the son of former Talisay City Mayor Socrates Fernandez; Leodegreco Sanchez, the son of the late Cebu Vice Gov. Gregorio Sanchez; Bohol Provincial Board Member Rey Niño Boniel, the prime suspect for the abduction and killing of his wife, Bien Unido Mayor Gisela Bendong-Boniel; and alleged drug lord Alvaro “Barok” Alvaro.

Investigation

Davide, in a press interview yesterday, said he was willing to have the matter investigated by law enforcers from CPPO and PIB.

“Did he (Capacio) mention any name? Well, we’ll have that investigated,” said Davide.

This is not the first time for the provincial jail to be tagged by drug suspects as their supply source of illegal drugs.

In August 2017, a certain Rolando Escorial, who was arrested in Barili town for selling shabu, reported to police that he got his supply of drugs from a CPDRC inmate named “Rocky.”

This prompted the CPDRC administration, led by its acting jail warden Roberto “Bobby” Legaspi, to seek the assistance of investigators from the PIB to confirm if the allegations were true. But in September 2017, Legaspi, citing investigation reports from the PIB, revealed that the “Rocky” being referred to by Escorial was not in CPDRC.

Yesterday, Legaspi said he would be asking the help of PIB and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA-7), once again to verify Capacio’s claims.

“Before anything else, we will have to work with the CPPO, PDEA and PIB to confirm these allegations. We’ll start from there to determine what the actions are needed to be taken for this case,” said Legaspi.

Although acknowledging that completely expelling illegal activities such as gambling and substance abuse would be a difficult task for the provincial jail management, Legaspi added that the investigation would shed light on the extent of these illicit transactions.

Not a tour guide

Badian Councilor Mark Andrew Jorolan, meanwhile, said Capacio was not an accredited tour guide of the municipality.

Jorolan, in a Facebook post, shared the official statement of the Badian Municipal Council that belied the tourist guide claim of Capacio, saying the drug suspect was “operating illegally by himself.”

“In view of the recent arrest of an alleged tour guide caught in a buy-bust operation, we would like to make an assurance that all our tourism areas remain safe,” he said.

Jorolan said all accredited guides have undergone the proper training and drug testing.

He went on to thank the local police force for “taking action against this public menace.”

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