Another village official linked to drugs, arrested during raid

By: Benjie Talisic, Morexette Marie B. Erram July 08,2017 - 11:24 PM

Barangay Councilor Raul Cole Sr., chairman of the peace and order council of Barangay Putat in Tuburan, was arrested during a raid in his house based on a search warrant. In front of him are the pieces of evidence seized by the raiding team, which included suspected shabu and a handgun.

Another barangay official allegedly involved in drugs fell into the hands of the authorities last Friday.

In a joint operation by the Provincial Intelligence Branch (PIB) and the Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit of the Cebu Provincial Police Office (PDEU-CPPO), the police implemented a search warrant issued by Danao City Regional Trial Court Judge Jerry Dicdican, in the house of Putat, Tuburan Barangay Captain Raul Mesa Cole Sr.

Cole heads the peace and order committee of Barangay Putat.

The raid yielded several packs of suspected shabu valued at over P235,000 and a .22 caliber gun.

When the search warrant was presented to him, Cole expressed shock and surprise, saying he fully supported the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign.

He denied the accusation on the warrant and the reports that linked him to the illegal drug trade.

“I support the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs, and I’m already over it,” Cole stated in Cebuano.

However, police recovered the drugs and gun inside his room and from a small shanty beside his house, which was used to store some construction equipment.

Cole said the evidence confiscated by the police belonged to his son, Raul Cole Jr., whom he reported to be a drug dependent.

The barangay official said he is a contractor and provides services to construction of houses in Tuburan and other areas in Metro Cebu. He said this is his source of income.

PDEU-CPPO head Chief Inspector Rolan Alicer told Cebu Daily News in a phone interview that they have been monitoring Cole Sr. for a month after receiving reports of his alleged ties to the illegal drug trade, which they were able to verify.

Alicer, who also happened to be a local officer assigned in Tuburan, said he “… knew Cole very well, as an active fighter of illegal activities in Barangay Putat,” which was why he was surprised when the latter was tagged as a drug peddler.

PIB head, Chief Supt. Joie Yap, on the other hand, said Cole is considered a high value target, being a public official.

“He is only wasting his time doing public duties after he was engaged in illegal activities. Before, he was not involved into any of it,” he said.


Meanwhile, the Cebu Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Office (CPADAO) said the continued increase on the number of alleged narco-politicians caught in drug busts in the past three days was very alarming and reiterated their support on the moves to postpone the barangay elections slated this year.

“Pending investigations of narco-politicians caught in buy-bust operations from our law enforcement, it is better to halt the barangay elections this year, and move it to 2018,” CPADAO executive director Carmen Remedios “Ivy” Durano-Meca said.

But for the Association of Barangay Councils – Cebu Federation (ABC), the current numbers of narco-politicians arrested in Cebu do not justify the postponement of barangay elections to October 4, 2018.

ABC Cebu Federation president Celestino “Tining” Martinez told CDN that to cancel this year’s barangay elections, based on the increase in the number of arrests of alleged narco-politicians in the barangay level as grounds, was a risky conclusion.

“The current count of barangay officials nabbed because of their involvement in the illegal drug trade is very small. We have 1,066 barangays Cebu and the figures do not even reach half. It’s fallacious,” Martinez said.

Martinez also argued the purpose of Senate Bill 1469, which is rooted on a report by President Rodrigo Duterte alleging that around 40 percent of barangay captains are into the illegal drug trade.

“(Narco-politicians) not only come from the barangay level. There are also those who came from other government agencies and maybe even in higher positions. They just evaded suspicion and arrest from law enforcers as of the moment,” stated Martinez.

Senate Bill 1469 was filed in the Senate last March, seeking to move the barangay and SK elections from October 4, 2017 to October 4, 2018.

It was authored by Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, who earlier said that its intention was to expedite and place more efforts into investigating narco-politicians in the barangay level.

“I do not support the postponement of the barangay elections because I do not want to conclude anything. Let’s give them (barangay officials) the benefit of the doubt,” Martinez added.

The ABC Cebu Federation is one of the largest government organizations in the province of Cebu.

Last Wednesday, one of its members, who was identified as the barangay captain of Malabago, Badian, was arrested by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency – 7 (PDEA -7) in a buy-bust operation for peddling and possessing illegal drugs worth more than P2 million.

On the other hand, the president of the ABC – San Fernando chapter was caught in a raid last Friday morning for illegal possession of firearms and suspected packs of shabu. According to police reports, Johnny Arrisgado had ties to self-confessed San Fernando drug lord Franz Sabalones.

Drug test

While echoing Martinez’s stand not to postpone this year’s barangay elections, Tuburan mayor Democrito Diamante suggested that all barangay officials be subjected to drug tests as a major step not only to cleanse the local government ranks but also to serve as a “strong warning” for undetected narco-politicians.

“The numbers are still very little. I suggest to conduct another round of drug tests for all government officials, especially barangay captains. But I know it’s easier said than done because in the case of Tuburan, doing one will cost us a lot and we don’t have that kind of amount yet,” Diamante told CDN through a phone interview.

He also said that his office received intelligence reports from police, identifying several narco-politicians operating within his jurisdiction.
“They haven’t been captured yet, but both our office and the police are monitoring them,” said Diamante.

“Our campaign against illegal drugs is intensified. It is much better if our place will be entirely wiped clean of drug pushers and supplies,” he added.

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