Sabalones no longer under CIDG custody
Self-confessed Cebuano drug lord Franz Sabalones is no longer in the custody of the Philippine National Police.
According to his lawyer, Louie Arma, there is no basis to hold Sabalones in Camp Crame.
Arma declined to reveal the whereabouts of his client for security purposes.
“He’s not in the custody of Camp Crame because there was no basis to hold him there even after he surrendered. But from time to time, he reports to the Philippine National Police,” he said.
Sabalones, a native of San Fernando town, south of Cebu, is facing charges before the Department of Justice (DOJ) for his alleged involvement in the illegal drugs trade.
He is being investigated for alleged violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, particularly for selling illegal drugs. The offense is non-bailable.
Arma said they are waiting for the DOJ to issue its ruling on the case.
In an order released last Jan. 18, the Court of Appeals issued a freeze order on the bank accounts and properties of Sabalones.
The freeze order is in relation to the investigation conducted by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).
His assets include P76 million in deposits in three bank accounts, six lots, a beach resort in San Fernando, six sports utility vehicles and a 6.4-hectare poultry farm.
Arma said they will ask the appellate court to lift the freeze order after the DOJ will release its ruling on the drug charges against Sabalones.
“It (freeze order) is a natural consequence. (But) we will explain to the CA (how the properties were acquired),” he said.
A changed man
Arma made his revelations during a press conference to launch a booklet authored by Sabalones containing his confessions on his involvement in the illegal drugs trade and his decision to change the course of his life.
“Human sa tanang napaabot nako sa akong pakig-alayon sa pangagamhanang Duterte gi klaro nako nga dili og dili nako mo balik sa maong negosyo. Dugay na nako gi tapus ang maong kalihukan ug wala nakoy gi buhat nga mamahimong makadaut sa ako,” a line in the booklet read.
(After everything that had happened to me after I coordinated with the Duterte administration, I made it clear that I would never again engage in that kind of business. I ended my operations a long time ago and I have not done anything that would destroy me.)
“Dili ug dili nako mahimo nga mo traydor sa akong gibuhiang pahayag ngadto sa gobyerno kabahin sa maong issue. Hinlo ang akong konsensya tungod kay seryoso ko sa akong kausaban,” the booklet further read.
(I will never betray the government. My conscience is clear because I am serious in my hope for renewal.)
The booklet entitled “Say no to drugs. Yes to Jesus Christ” was presented by Arma during the press conference yesterday.
The booklet also contains bible passages and news articles about him.
Sabalones, who surrendered to Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa last August 7, was not around during the press conference.
Arma said Sabalones wanted to stop his illegal drugs operations in December 2016, about six months after President Rodrigo Duterte took office.
“He was not happy with what he was doing. His freedom was limited, and he’s very much concerned with his family. He’s actually very soft when it comes to his family,” Arma said.
He also said they are disappointed with some policemen who continue to drag Sabalones’ name to drug suspects that were arrested.
“How can he operate? Where will he get his supply when he’s being monitored? Drug suppliers don’t want to deal with people who are being monitored by authorities. It’s impossible for him to go back to his business,” the lawyer said.
Arma stressed that if there are members of Sabalones’ drug group who still engage in illegal drugs, they do it in their own capacity and without the supervision of his client.
“It’s unfair to link him (Sabalones) to those who are arrested. The police should change their mentality. If they are satisfied with accusations that my client is still into drugs, then they fail in their campaign. It means that their intelligence officers are not working,” he said.
Arma said Sabalones is committed to help the government in the campaign against illegal drugs.
In fact, he said his client revealed the names of his members, contacts, and protectors to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Manila for them to act on it.
“We want to cooperate with the government. He no longer has the capability to resume his drug operations,” Arma said.
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