IT’S CEBU CITY JAIL’S TURN

By Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Benjie B. Talisic, Morexette Marie B. Erram February 28,2018

CDN FILE PHOTO

ANOTHER JAIL TAGGED AS DRUG SOURCE

Is the Cebu City Jail also a den where illegal drugs thrive?

An alleged big-time drug dealer, Walter Villamor, was arrested by police operatives from the Drug Enforcement Group in Central Visayas (DEG-7) on Wednesday and claimed his supplier of illegal drugs, Juan Daclan, got his stock of shabu from a certain “Chao” inside the Cebu City Jail.

He did not elaborate on his allegations when presented to reporters after he was arrested past 2 a.m. on Wednesday although, he said, he already relayed everything about his operations to the police.

Jail Supt. Renante Rubio, warden of the Cebu City Jail, said he will look into Villamor’s allegations even as he maintained that claims that drug suspects got their supply of illegal drugs from the jail was nothing new.

“That has been an issue even before I assume my post here (last November 2017),” he told Cebu Daily News.

“Allegations like that have been used as a diversionary tactic from anyone caught for selling illegal drugs,” he added.

Last Monday, another suspected drug peddler, Willard Capacio, who was arrested for allegedly selling shabu in Badian town, southwest Cebu, also pointed to a jail source for the drugs he peddled, claiming he got his supply from the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC), a province-run facility located across the Cebu City Jail. The city jail is operated by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III, in a separate interview yesterday, likewise stressed that the claim of a drug trade being operated from inside CPDRC would remain an allegation until it is backed with concrete proofs.

“It’s so easy to point at CPDRC as their source of illegal drugs. This is why we’re waiting for the investigation of the police. In the meantime, we are doing our best to stop the entry of contraband such as illegal drugs (into the jail),” he said.

Drug bust

Villamor, a resident of Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City, was arrested by DEG-7 operatives in a drug bust inside a motel in Barangay Calamba, Cebu City, past 2 a.m. on Wednesday.

Seized from him were five packs of shabu valued at P4.7 million. He did not resist arrest.

A complaint for violating Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, particularly for selling prohibited drugs, will be filed against Villamor at the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office. The offense is non-bailable.

Sought for comment, Villamor admitted he was involved in the illegal drugs trade.

“Ako ni gibuhat aron maka-kuwarta (I did it for money),” said the 23-year-old suspect in an interview.

“Nagmahay ko (I regretted having engaged in the narcotics trade),” he added.

Supt. Glenn Mayam, chief of DEG-7, said they received reports about Villamor’s illegal activities from an informant.

“We conducted an investigation and surveillance operations against the subject for about three months. It just so happened that his stock of illegal drugs arrived today so we were able to confiscate quite a number of shabu from him,” he said.

Mayam said Villamor was a big-time drug peddler who may have contacts inside the Cebu City Jail.

“We’re validating claims that his source of shabu has contacts inside the city jail,” he said.

Mayam refused to elaborate while they conduct further investigation in coordination with officials of the Cebu City Jail — a facility originally designed for just 1,500 but is now packed with over 4,000 inmates.

Based on their investigation, he said Villamor’s customers were from Bohol and some parts of Cebu.

“He doesn’t sell shabu in small amounts. His transactions usually ranged from 50 grams and above,” the police official said partly in Cebuano.

‘Watch out’

Leia Albiar, spokesperson of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA-7), said they have been closely working with other government agencies to make sure that all jails in Cebu will be free from illegal drugs.

“Maybe, these inmates are thinking that no one is watching them. They better not be complacent because law enforcers are not slowing down in our advocacy against illegal drugs,” she said in an interview on Wednesday.

To prevent the entry of illegal drugs and other contraband inside the jails, Albiar said the PDEA and the police will conduct regular surprise raids.

“We have been receiving reports that there are illegal drugs inside the jails. And so we won’t stop conducting Greyhound operations,” she said.

Albiar said jail officials in Cebu admitted that they have been having a hard time preventing the entry of contraband no matter how strict the security measures at the different jails are.

“There are still those who managed to sneak drugs and other contraband into the jail because people are also getting creative. They always think of ways on how to be able to send illegal drugs inside the jail,” she said.

“But we’re not discounting the possibility that there are also jail personnel who are in cahoots with drug personalities,” she added.
Albiar said PDEA and other law enforcers are doing their best to address the problem.

“Don’t ever think that we’re too lax. We’re making some steps. At least, we’re one step ahead of the enemy,” she said.

Albiar said the PDEA and the police are conducting regular workshops where they share notes and other information with regard to the illegal drug problem inside the jails.

“We’re conducting an in-depth investigation to verify reports that we received,” she said.

Transfer of supervision

For his part, Davide said he has been requesting members of the House of Representatives to pass a bill to allow the turnover of provincial jails to the supervision of the BJMP.

Davide had been vocal about his desire to turn over the management of the provincial jail to the BJMP, saying that manning a facility that houses over 3,600 inmates has been a difficult task for the provincial government.

“The provincial government is not an expert in running jails. It’s difficult. I’m sure other governors feel the same,” he said.

“And imagine, there are nearly 3,700 prisoners in CPDRC which is more than the total number of employees of the Capitol,” he added.

In 2015, Surigao del Norte Rep. Francisco Matugas has filed House Bill No. 2217, which aims to create an “integrated approach to jail management in the country.”

The bill is still pending at the House of Representatives.

“Wala kaayo matuki. Basin para nila dili siya priority. (It was not extensively discussed in the House. Maybe for them, it’s not a priority). So I’m asking the House to act on it,” Davide said.

CPDRC began to operate in 2004 under the administration of former governor and now Cebu 3rd District Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia.

It was built to accommodate 1,400 inmates only. However, the current population of the jail has ballooned to 3,691.

In a privilege speech last 2017, Garcia has slammed Davide for “mismanaging” the provincial jail that has gained international fame in 2006 to 2008 for its dancing inmates.

When asked about his sentiments on the possibility that his opponents, including Garcia, may use the current controversies at the CPDRC in time for the May 2019 gubernatorial race, Davide said he is willing to answer all their questions.

“I don’t care. I can answer them. I’m free to face that issue and if there are critics, well, we have to answer them,” Davide said.

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