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By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Inna Mejia, Jose Santino S. Bunachita February 27,2017 - 11:27 PM

Three army soldiers are caught inside a drug den allegedly in possession of drug paraphernalia. They are arrested by the Guadalupe police. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Three army soldiers are caught inside a drug den allegedly in possession of drug paraphernalia. They are arrested by the Guadalupe police.

They were supposed to help the government eradicate illegal drugs.

But three members of the Philippine Army in Cebu were caught allegedly in possession of illegal drug paraphernalia inside a makeshift room believed to be used as a drug den in Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City on Saturday.

Corporals Joar Francisco, 34; George Gutierrez, 35; and Edrelle Bayles, 35, were caught in possession of a disposable lighter, a hand-made tube, and tin foil believed to be used as a funnel.

Charges were filed against them yesterday before the Cebu City Prosecutors’ Office for violating Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, particularly for possession of illegal drug paraphernalia.

The three army corporals — all natives of Davao City — are currently taking refresher courses at the Cebu-based Armed Forces Central Visayas Command for possible promotion.

Lieutenant Colonel Luzmindo Mamaug, spokesperson of the AFP Central Command, begged off from issuing any statement, saying he was on leave and was not privy to the details of the case.

But in similar cases, he said it is possible that Francisco, Gutierrez, and Bayles would be dismissed from service.

Illegal gambling

Last Saturday, operatives of the Guadalupe Police Station responded to a call from a concerned citizen regarding gambling activities in Sitio Yoreco, Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City.

Senior Insp. Elisandro Quijano, chief of the Guadalupe Police Station, said a police team was sent to the area past 2 p.m.

When they arrived in the place, he said people scampered away.

While chasing those involved in hantak (coin toss game) and tong-its (a card game), Quijano said the police spotted seven people allegedly conducting a pot session inside a makeshift room.

The four civilians they arrested were Joji Bentulan, 40; Riel Gabijan, 49; Rochelle Perez, 30; and Raymundo Bayno, 50.

Recovered from the four suspects were two plastic packs of shabu and drug paraphernalia.

They also arrested the three soldiers who wore civilian clothes.

“Actually, we did not know that three of the suspects were soldiers. It was only after they introduced themselves to us when we knew they were affiliated with the military,” Quijano said in an interview.

The three soldiers did not have any gun during their arrest nor did they resist arrest.

They also refused to issue a statement to the media.


Soldiers have been tapped by the Cebu City government to augment police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to deter criminality especially the illegal drugs trade.

At least eight soldiers will live in Barangay Ermita for six months.

“They are not there to run after people. They are there to protect the people,” said Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña.

SPO1 Adonis Dumpit, whom Osmeña considered the “most feared policeman”, will also be assigned with the group.

“The soldiers will also be trained to win the hearts and souls of the residents by finding out all their little problems,” the mayor added.

He said should drug lords try to operate their illegal activities, the soldiers are ready for them. Osmeña also said he will support the activities that the soldiers will undertake for the community.

“They will look after the children, organize sports activities, whatever they can do. We will help them. We want the people to accept them,” Osmeña said.


Suspended Ermita barangay captain Felicisimo “Imok” Rupinta welcomed the immersion of the soldiers in the barangay.

“Wala koy problema ana. Nalipay ko nga naa sila kay makatabang sa kahusay ug kahapsay sa barangay. I hope maoy tuyo ug tumong nga naa sila dinha. Ang kuyaw, basin sagulan nila sa ilang comprehensive ug grand plan alang sa pulitika sa barangay,” he said in a phone interview.

(I don’t have any problem with that. I’m happy that they’re there to help in the barangay’s peace and order. I hope that is their purpose and objective. What’s worrisome is that maybe they will be used for a comprehensive and grand plan for politics in the barangay.)

Rupinta said he’s afraid that the armed personnel may be used by Osmeña as a political machinery in the coming barangay elections. Rupinta is a known supporter of former mayor Michael Rama, Osmeña’s archrival.

He said though that because of the presence of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) personnel carrying firearms and conducting patrols in the barangay, some children have started getting anxious and scared.

Rupinta said he also received reports that the city purchased a house in Sitio Ermita Proper where the military personnel are currently staying. He said they are accompanied by police personnel and PDEA agents.

Rupinta said he would have wanted them assigned in Sitio Bato where the illegal drug problem of the barangay is at the worst.


Before he was suspended last January, Rupinta said there were only around four or five identified drug pushers in Sitio Bato. But now, he said he received reports that the number has increased to almost 30.

Rupinta claimed that they had completely cleared Sitio Ermita Proper of drug pushers. But after his and the rest of the barangay councilors’ suspension, they received reports that 11 people have returned to the illegal drug trade in the area.

“Bisag suspended nako, ako gihapon sila ipatawag isip citizen. Ako sila istoryahon nga moundang na sa pamaligya og illegal nga drugas,” he said.
(Even if I am already suspended, I will still call them to a meeting as a citizen. I will talk to them and tell them to stop selling illegal drugs.)

Police drug operations

Although the police are barred from conducting anti-drug operations, Guadalupe station chief Quijano said they could still arrest drug suspects if the crime is committed in front of them – in this case, seeing them in the act of possession or selling illegal drugs.

“The operation last Saturday was intended to address illegal gambling in Guadalupe. It just so happened that we saw the suspects inside a drug den so we arrested them,” he explained.

Last January 30, on orders of President Rodrigo Duterte, PNP Chief Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa disbanded the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) following the death of Korean businessman Jee Ick-Joo at the hands of rogue policemen inside Camp Crame.

The focus now is to cleanse their ranks of scalawags.

All police regional offices and units were directed to conduct an investigation against rogue policemen and to intensify their internal cleansing efforts.

PDEA-7 Director Yogi Filemon Ruiz declined to comment on the arrest of the three soldiers, saying he has yet to get all the details of the case and coordinate with the Central Command.

Ruiz earlier announced that he intends to seek assistance from the Central Command to help them in anti-drugs operations.

He said PDEA-7 agents will go after the “high-value targets” while members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command will operate against the street-level drug peddlers in the region.

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TAGS: barangay, Cebu City, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, Davao, den, drug, drugs, Ermita, illegal, illegal gambling, inside, nabbed, paraphernalia, soldiers

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