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NBI is out, too

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol, February 02,2017 - 11:39 PM

CARRETA DRUG DEN. Suspected drug pusher Rolly Frasco (left), the alleged operator of a drug den located just 15 meters away from the Carreta barangay hall, and a suspected drug user arrive at the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Central Visayas (PDEA 7) office following their arrest on Wednesday night, Feb. 1, 2017.

CARRETA DRUG DEN. Suspected drug pusher Rolly Frasco (left), the alleged operator of a drug den located just 15 meters away from the Carreta barangay hall, and a suspected drug user arrive at the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Central Visayas (PDEA 7) office following their arrest on Wednesday night, Feb. 1, 2017.

Just days after the National Bureau of Investigation scored against illegal drug in Cebu, President Rodrigo Duterte barred the NBI from conducting anti-illegal drug operations, saying that he had lost his trust in the bureau.

“The bureau is suspended from imposing drug laws. Sali kayo. Nawalan na ako ng tiwala sa inyo (You are included. I lost my trust in you),” President Duterte, referring to the NBI, said in a speech at the 38th National Convention of Philippine Association of Water Districts in Davao City on Thursday.

For now, he said, only the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) can lead government efforts to combat illegal drugs.

This developed as the PDEA in Central Visayas wasted no time in going after drug suspects in Cebu, swooping down on a suspected drug den in Barangay Carreta, Cebu City, located just 15 meters away from the barangay hall, and arrested its alleged operator and four supposed drug users past 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

Carreta Barangay Captain Eduardo Lauron yesterday admitted he knew about the illegal drugs activities in the place but chose to report them to the Mabolo Police Station, which has jurisdiction over them, and did not know he was supposed to report the same to PDEA 7.

The President was, however, clear about the exclusion now of the Philippine National Police (PNP) from all anti-drug operations.
“We cannot make use of the police because they are corrupt,” Duterte said. “I cannot trust now the NBI because they are corrupt.”

The President had earlier barred the police from conducting anti-drug operations following the killing of kidnap victim South Korean businessman Jee Ick-Joo inside Camp Crame.

The NBI came under fire following reports that its officials and agents were also involved in Jee’s abduction and death.

Amid the controversy, NBI Director Dante Gierran yesterday relieved from their posts the bureau’s deputy director for investigation services, lawyer Jose “Jojo” Yap, who has been reassigned as officer in charge (OIC) of the Information and Communications Technology Division (ICTD); National Capital Region director Ricardo Diaz who will return to the NBI main office; Regional Operations Service head agent Darwin Lising, who has been assigned to Bicol; and lawyer Roel Bolivar, head of the NBI task force against illegal drugs.

The bureau’s Deputy Director for Intelligence Vicente De Guzman III will replace Yap; lawyer Sixto Burgos will be OIC at the Office of the Deputy Director for Intelligence; and lawyer Jonathan Galicia will take over the position of Bolivar.

The reshuffle came following the accusation of Supt. Rafael Dumlao III that Diaz’s men were also involved in Jee’s abduction.
Dumlao has been identified as the brains behind Jee’s abduction and killing based on testimonies of fellow police officer SPO4 Roy Villegas and NBI striker Jerry Omlang.

Gierran, together with PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, on Wednesday met at the office of Sen. Panfilo Lacson. The two have agreed to conduct a joint investigation to solve Jee’s abduction and killing.

For the police, the team leader will be Senior Supt. Glenn Dumlao, head of PNP’s Anti-Kidnapping Group, and for the NBI, the team leader will be Assistant Director Medardo Delemos.

But the President has lost confidence in Gierran, noting that when he asked the latter whom he could recommend to head the agency, he presented himself.

The President said the only thing he asked Gierran was if he were willing to kill rogue agents, to which the latter said yes.
“How many agents he had killed?” Duterte asked.

Before he ordered a major reshuffle at the bureau yesterday, Gierran had insisted no one in NBI was involved in the Jee kidnap-slay.

“I am 101 percent sure that there was none,” he told Metro Manila reporters on Monday, a day after Duterte threatened to relieve him.

Gierran also said he was not resigning. “I did not commit any rowdy act or foolishness so I do not have to resign,” he said.

Only last Wednesday, the NBI in Central Visayas agents led by Special Investigator Arnel Pura arrested alleged drug pusher Aireen Ompad and her two cohorts in a drug bust in Barangay Tejero, Cebu City and seized from them 100 grams of shabu worth P1.2 million and two unlicensed firearms.

PDEA’s Carreta raid

PDEA 7, on the other hand, reported that Rolly Frasco, 34, who allegedly ran the drug den in Carreta, was arrested after he handed a pack of shabu to an undercover agent, said PDEA-7 spokesperson Earl Rallos.

Recovered from Frasco were several packs of shabu amounting to P100,000 and assorted drug paraphernalia.

Also arrested were Locrisio Talisic, 27; Romeo Patangan, 42; Samia Sepulveda, 23; and a 17-year-old girl.

Rallos said they were now coordinating with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to determine if the 17-year-old girl acted with discernment when she committed the offense.

Under Republic Act 9344, or an Act Establishing a Comprehensive Juvenile Justice and Welfare System, child above 15 years old but below 18 years old are exempted from criminal liability and be subjected to an intervention program, unless it can be proven that the minor has acted with discernment.

Frasco will face charges for violating Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, particularly for possession and selling of illegal drugs as well as maintaining a drug den, before the Cebu City Prosecutors’ Office. Selling of drugs is a non-bailable offense.

The other suspects will be charged for “visiting a drug den,” a violation of the anti-drugs law.

Frasco, who works as a painter, admitted to using illegal drugs but insisted he did not own the drug den and only went to the place to visit a friend.

Crucial location

But Rallos said that while Frasco was considered a “small-time” drug pusher, they made sure to get him, as he was reportedly catering to students and employees of nearby malls.

The alleged drug den is located 15 meters away from the barangay hall of Carreta, about 50 meters from the Carreta Elementary School, and 200 meters from two malls located at the North Reclamation Area.

“Although PDEA is concentrating on high-value targets, our regional director directed us to dismantle this drug den because it’s located near a school and the barangay hall,” Rallos told reporters yesterday.

Rallos said they could not yet conclude that the local officials of Carreta were protecting the illegal drug operations in the place.

“The presence of a drug den near the barangay hall does not necessarily mean that these elected officials in the place were involved in illegal drugs,” he said.

“I can’t say that the barangay officials in Carreta were remiss in their duties, but what I am sure of is that they never reported to PDEA any illegal drugs operations in their place,” he added.

Rallos said the barangay officials of Carreta were not asked or needed to appear during the buy bust since it was not meant to serve an arrest warrant.

‘I’m doing my job’


Ermita Barangay Captain Felicisimo Rupinta

Ermita Barangay Captain Felicisimo Rupinta


Lauron, meanwhile, insisted they have not been remiss in alerting authorities about the proliferation of illegal drugs in his barangay.

“Asa man diay ko mo-report nga under man mi sa Mabolo Police? Wala ko masayod nga kinahanglan pud diay mi mopahibawo sa PDEA (Where else will I report when we are under the Mabolo Police? I didn’t know that we have to notify PDEA about it),” he told Cebu Daily News.

Lauron, who is on his 10th year as barangay captain of Carreta, said it was him who cause the arrest of Frasco when the latter was allegedly involved in snatching activities in Carreta in 2008.

He said he had no idea that Frasco has been freed from jail.

As to the four other suspects, Lauron said they were drug surrenderers who had been advised to stop their involvement in illegal drugs.

The four suspects, including the girl, surrendered during last year’s implementation of Oplan Tokhang, a campaign where the police and local officials literally knock on the doors of suspected drug users and ask them to surrender.

His advice apparently fell on deaf ears.

“Nibalik gyud na sila. Wala tay mahimo ana. Ang-ang na man sad og magsige ta og sunod-sunod nianang mga klasehang tawo (They really went back to their old ways. There’s nothing I can do. I just could not follow these kind of people),” he said.

Lauron said he was grateful that the PDEA-7 agents finally caught the suspects.

The suspected drug den, he said, was actually owned by a certain “Pedro” who was not around when the PDEA-7 agents raided the house.

PDEA-7 Director Yogi Filemon Ruiz earlier sued uncooperative village officials by filing a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas against all the elected officials of Barangay Ermita, Cebu City for allegedly failing to cooperate with them when they raided on Nov. 6, 2016 a “shabu tiangge” located just 500 meters from the barangay hall.

Last month, the anti-graft office ordered the six-month preventive suspension of Ermita Barangay Captain Felicisimo and all seven barangay councilmen pending an investigation into Ruiz’s complaint.

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TAGS: Cebu, Central Visayas, Davao City, NBI, Pdea, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, PNP, Ronald Dela Rosa

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