By Carmel Loise Matus |August 14,2016 - 11:05 PM
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)  Regional Director Yogi Filemon Ruiz (CDN FILE PHOTO)

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Regional Director Yogi Filemon Ruiz (CDN FILE PHOTO)

The illegal drug operation inside the Cebu City Jail did not sprout overnight.
It had been going on for years, with the supply coming from Central Visayas’ top drug lord Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz and the men who took over his operation after he was killed last June, the top official of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in the region (PDEA-7) revealed.

PDEA-7 Director Yogi Ruiz told CEBU DAILY NEWS in a phone interview yesterday that despite being gone now for more than two months, Jaguar’s group continued supplying the inmates there with illegal drugs.

Bisan og patay na si Jaguar, padayon gihapon iyang negosyo (Even with Jaguar’s death, his illegal drug business continues),” Ruiz said.

So, for how long was this group supplying the inmates at the city jail?

According to Ruiz, a different informant told them that it has been going on for more than five years now, or even before jail warden Supt. Johnson Calub of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) assumed post three years ago.

And yet, last February, when policemen and agents of BJMP conducted a surprise inspection at the city jail under Operation Greyhound, not even a speck of illegal drug was found. A pack of powder thought to be an illegal drug was seized by raiding policemen, but it turned out to be ground ginger used to heal cough and colds.

In contrast, last Saturday’s Greyhound operation yielded not only cash of varying denomination totaling about P4 million, which smelled of illegal drugs proceed, but also a stash of approximately 70 grams of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) in 48 pieces of heat-sealed sachets.

Back then, the former city mayor, Michael Rama, expressed suspicion over the outcome as he believed that illicit drugs had been proliferating in the jail and should have been flushed out.

The latest raid was conducted by the joint elements of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), PNP Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB-7), the Philippine Coastguard’s K9 Unit and PDEA-7.

Ruiz said their informant, a former prisoner, told them that the drugs were being sneaked inside the jail facility during the duty hours of the jail guards believed to be either on the take or kasabwat (accomplices) of the drug syndicate operating inside the jail.

These drug couriers pretend to be relatives of the inmates visiting the jail facility, revealed Ruiz.

These jail guards, according to Ruiz, are now subjects to an investigation being conducted at the city jail. He, however, declined to name them or say how many of the jail’s 139 guards were being subjected to the investigation.

Relief of Calub and 50 jail guards

But Chief Supt. Allan Iral, BJMP-7 director, revealed that at least 50 jail guards under the BJMP in Central Visayas would be relieved from their posts starting today.
The relief of Calub would also take effect tomorrow and he was directed to report to the BJMP regional office pending investigation, Iral said.

Iral told CDN that he has sent out a directive to relieve effective today those BJMP personnel who have been assigned at the jail for more than four years. All of them will be directed to report tomorrow to their new assignments either at the jail facilities in Talisay, Mandaue or Lapu-Lapu cities.

Some BJMP personnel assigned in the jails in these three cities will take over the management at the Cebu City jail, he said.

The three inmates

Ruiz confirmed that the contacts of Jaguar’s group inside the jail were the three inmates who were in possession of the illegal drugs at the time of Saturday’s search.
The packs of shabu worth P240,000 were found inside the “kobols” (huts) of Mark Entece, Marlon Ferolino, and Jerome Miñoza.

All three inmates are in jail over drug-related cases and will now face additional charges of possession of illegal drugs, said Ruiz.

However, the three prisoners were not cooperative when they were questioned, according to Ruiz.

“Wala mo-cooperate . . . Mas gusto pa nila patyon kaysa mo-cooperate (They did not cooperate . . . They would rather be killed that to cooperate with us),” he added.

With this development, questions were raised as to who has assumed leadership in the illegal drug trade of Jaguar.

According to Ruiz, they already have a suspect but he could not reveal his identity as of this time.

Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, PRO-7 director, yesterday said they were now validating the information that Jaguar’s group has revived his illegal drug business.

Ruiz disclosed that the availability of cheaper shabu inside the jail facility might be a factor of the high number of visitors at the jail facility.

“Yes, that’s the reason, aside from feeling protected inside sa jail kay sa gawas pangdakpon man nato sila (Yes, that’s the reason, aside from feeling protected inside the jail since they will be arrested outside),” Ruiz said.

According to Ruiz, a small sachet of shabu costs P50 inside the jail while it costs double outside, or P100.

“Sa sulod kay makapalit og tag P50 ang sachet mentras sa gawas tag P100 pinakabarato,” he added.

Taliño said this is also a factor why drug users or drug pushers look for sources elsewhere since supply at the outside is now decreasing.

Kahit saan ngayon basta may makuha sila illegal drugs, kumukuha sila dahil nagkakahirapan na ng supply at tumaas daw presyo ng shabu (They look for and buy illegal drugs anywhere they can find it because supply has become scarce and prices have gone up),” Taliño added.

Ruiz said determining how the illegal drug business started in the city jail was still being investigated.

Investigation starts

Iral, on the other hand, revealed that the regional investigation prosecution division of BJMP-7 has been heading the investigation into the involvement of jail guards in the drug trade inside the city jail.

He added that the investigation will determine if Calub allowed the illegal drug trade in the jail facility and if intelligence reports were true that he was receiving “payola” or drug money.

According to an earlier report, an informant said that the jail warden received P3,000 a week from each of the 36 detention cells inside the jail for supposedly allowing the illegal drugs trade.

Iral admitted that the recent result of the surprise inspection was an indication that his wardens lacked stricter measures to prevent contraband from entering the jail facility.

He said BJMP has been conducting greyhound operations together with PDEA and had expected to recover illegal drugs and other contraband but not to the magnitude of what were ferreted out last Saturday.

Apart from the drugs, bundles of bills and packs of coins amounting to P4,653,400, mobile phones, bladed weapons, flat screen television sets, dozens of branded rubber shoes, a collection of ball caps, personal appliances, ampules of Nubain (injectable painkiller) and several drug paraphernalia were discovered.

Iral said he could not believe that the money was from the Batang Cebu Cooperative that runs a bakery, canteen and other livelihood programs inside the Cebu City Jail.
During the surprise inspection, CDN photographer Christian Maningo said he witnessed how a K9 dog sat on the money, which indicated that the bills were likely tainted with the scent of shabu.

The huts, which had several appliances and looked like VIP rooms, had been dismantled since Saturday, Iral added.

The discovered items, including the money, were now being kept by BJMP.

If proven that the money were sales proceeds from illegal drugs, Iral said it would be forfeited in favor of the government.

If in another surprise inspection contraband will still be discovered, Iral said he would request that the PNP’s Special Action Force (SAF) to take over in guarding the jail, similar to what is now happening at the Bilibid Prison, the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City.

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