The police won’t spare anyone linked to illegal drugs, even if it means arresting one of its own.
Cebu police authorities have long acknowledged that some policemen were suspected of being engaged in or using illegal drugs. They finally caught one on Friday night.
An off-duty policeman in civilian clothes, P01 Ian Patrick Nillas Carvellida, was caught engaging in a shabu session. He was shot and wounded after he drew his service pistol on agents of the Provincial Intelligence Branch (PIB) of the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CCPO) who raided a drug den in Sitio Dakit, Barangay Poblacion, Pinamungajan, some 64.8 kilometers west of Cebu City, on Friday night.
Carvellida, 29, an investigator of the Pinamungajan police, was shot in the right leg and is now under guard in a hospital in Cebu City, said SP01 Reynaldo Solante, the leader of the PIB team that conducted the operation.
Senior Supt. Clifford Gairanod, CPPO director, said the arrest of Carvellida should serve as a warning to all policemen linked to illegal drug use.
“Daghan ni sila (There are a number of them). This is just a warning that even if you are a police officer, we are going to arrest you,” said Gairanod.
Gairanod warned they would not only go after drug users in uniform but also those who would coddle or protect drug personalities.
Two other cops from the Pinamungajan police, both also with the rank of Police Officer 1, were reportedly in the company of Carvellida and also took part in the shabu session but had just left when the police came to raid the drug den, allegedly operated by a notorious drug dealer identified as Allan Salazar, 49.
Solante declined to name the two other policemen pending investigation.
According to Solante, Salazar’s house was placed under surveillance after Sitio Dakit’s residents asked the PIB to raid the house because they were scandalized that some policemen would be seen coming in and out of the drug den, and sometimes even while still in their uniforms.
“Gilaw-ayan na ang mga tawo nga naa lagi kuno mga pulis manulod, ang uban mag-uniform pa,” he said.
At around 9 p.m. on Friday, PIB policemen swooped down on Salazar’s house after one of them posed as a buyer and was able to buy from Salazar a small packet of shabu, also known as meth (methamphetamine hydrochloride), worth P200.
Solante said as soon as the raiding team entered the house, they chanced upon a man in the living room, later identified to be Carvellida, inhaling shabu. Carvellida, who was not in uniform, drew his service firearm, a Glock 17 Gen4 caliber 9 mm pistol, when the policemen announced the raid.
“Nagsuyop gyud siya og shabu. Unya pagkabantay niya nga dunay mga pulis, mibunot siya sa armas, gi unhan nalang namo siya (He was inhaling shabu. When he noticed there were policemen, he drew his gun. We had to shoot him first),” said Solante.
Solante said they did not know that Carvellida was a policeman until the wounded cop later admitted to them that he was one of them.
He said that even if they had been tipped off about the presence of policemen in the drug den, they had hoped the information was false.
“Wa gyud mi magdahom nga maaktuhan namo ang pulis ra sab (We never expected that the person we would catch in the act is a policeman),” he said.
Carvellida was first brought to the Pinamungajan District Hospital but was later transferred and to the Chong Hua Hospital in Cebu City, where he remains confined, added Solante.
On top of his drug-related charges, Carvellida would also face an administrative case that could lead to his dismissal from service, Solante said.
“Maayo gyud nang ma-dismiss ang mga pulis nga badlongon (Erring policemen should be dismissed from service),” Solante said.
According to Solante, they had placed Salazar’s house under surveillance for two weeks before they conducted the raid.
But they knew of his alleged illegal activities since last year because his name appeared in the phone of another suspected drug pusher who was shot and killed in a police operation last year.
Seized from Friday night’s operation were at least 12-13 grams of shabu worth P141,000, drug paraphernalia and the 9mm gun of Carvellida, Solante said.
Salazar, on the other hand, was first brought the CCPO headquarters in Camp General Maxilom, Barangay Lahug, Cebu City, but was later detained at the police station in Consolacion town pending the filing of formal charges against him. (The PIB has no detention center of its own and would usually bring their arrested suspects to the Consolacion police station as it has a big detention facility).
Salazar, interviewed at the CCPO headquarters, admitted to reporters that he was engaged in illegal drug dealing and that Carvellida had been buying drugs from him for the last three months.
On Friday night, Salazar said he was sleeping when Carvellida, in the company of another person, went to his house and roused him from his sleep to allegedly ask for some packs of shabu.
“Mo ari na siya sa balay after niyag duty kay silingan ra man gud mi. Naa pod na silay manok nga ako maoy nag breeding (He would often come to my house after his duty since we are neighbors. He also has some fighting cocks that I bred),” he told Cebu Daily News.
Salazar said he did not know if Carvellida’s companion was also a policeman since they were both in civilian clothes.
“Gikan man daw siya duty ato. Basta stress na siya gikan filing ug kaso, diri siya mutambay sa amo. Kato nga gabhi-ona, nangayo siyag pakete nako. Ingon pa gani siya maypa unta kunu iyang gidala ang (beer) nindot i-inom (He said he just came from his duty. Every time he felt stressed, especially after filing a case, he would come to my house to relax. That night, he asked for a pack. He even said he regretted not bringing with him a bottle of beer),” added Salazar.
Salazar claimed that he would sometimes give shabu for free to Carvellida but the latter had never offered him protection from police raids.
But Gairanod said Carvellida could be considered as a drug protector, as “anybody who is using drugs, especially if you are a lawman, the tendency is you protect your supplier because it will be hard to find someone else to go to when you want to use drugs.”
Who are the two others?
Insp. Gilfred Baroman, Pinamungajan’s police chief for just four months, said he was surprised when he learned that Carvellida had been arrested as the junior officer had been one of his better investigators who had nabbed several drug suspects and had filed cases against them in court.
“Wa ko nag expect (I did not expect it). I always remind them never to get involved in illegal drugs. [There are just things] beyond my control,” Baroman told CDN in a phone interview yesterday.
Although it was the first time that a police officer from the Pinamungajan police was arrested, Baroman said Carvellida was not the first from the town police to be linked to illegal drugs.
Sometime last year, a PO1 Marvin Tundag was relieved from his post and later dismissed from service after he was linked to a suspected drug lord in Toledo City, he said.
Baroman said he had visited Carvellida at the hospital and the latter admitted there were two other policemen from their station who were with him inside the drug den before the raiding team arrived.
“He would not name names. I have called an emergency conference among my men to eventually trace his two police companions,” he said.
Baroman said that unless Carvellida would name the two others, it would be difficult to identify them because of the 23 policemen under the Pinamungajan police, only two were ranked SPO4 and SPO1, respectively, and the rest were all PO1.