GRECO NABBED IN TUBURAN
For several months now, Leodegreco “Greco” Sanchez has been allegedly firing his guns without provocation and for no apparent reason.
His neighbors eventually have had enough and decided to report it to the authorities. Yesterday, Cebu provincial police arrested Sanchez, the son of the late Cebu vice governor Gregorio Sanchez Jr., in a raid at their family-owned farm in Barangay San Juan, Tuburan, a town about 90 kilometers north of Cebu City.
“The reason why he was arrested (was that) he was considered a nuisance in their community,” said Chief Supt. Jose Mario Espino, director of Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7).
The operation came just two days after former Medellin mayor and now town Councilor Ricardo Ramirez was arrested for possession of a cache of firearms.
Seized from Sanchez were a caliber .45 pistol American Classic and a shotgun. But the police also found in his house airsoft guns or replicas of high-powered firearms such as an M16 armalite rifle, MP5, M60 machine gun, caliber .45 pistol, and a 9mm pistol, as well as assorted ammunition and magazines.
“May mga replica pa siya (Sanchez has replicas of different firearms). (These things are) used to intimidate the community,” Espino said.
Aside from Sanchez, the police also arrested his live-in partner Maricel Gregory and his two other alleged cohorts identified as Jolbert Jacaba and Glenn Nacion.
Sanchez will face illegal possession of firearms and ammunition charges, said Supt. Joie Yape, chief of the Provincial Intelligence Branch (PIB) of Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO).
Yape said that after they received reports from the residents about Greco’s alleged indiscriminate firing activities, they put him under surveillance for almost a month.
Finding basis to have his home searched, the police applied for search warrant, which was granted by Executive Judge Jacinto G. Fajardo Jr. of the Regional Trial Court Branch 66 in Talisay City.
Aside from confiscating the firearms, both real and replicas, police also recovered drug paraphernalia from the possession of Sanchez.
According to Yape, Sanchez has been considered by the police as one of its “high-value targets” in their anti-drug campaign.
But it was difficult to arrest Sanchez since the whole farm has closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, Yape said.
Yape said they suspected that Sanchez was able to get rid of the illegal drugs in his possession before the the police could even enter his property as he saw them coming on his CCTV monitors.
“We weren’t able to confiscate shabu since they already flushed it in the toilet bowl,” Yape claimed.
Yape explained that when they arrived in the area, there was no sign of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) in the house.
However, when the the police checked the CCTV camera, they saw a footage where the suspects were seen flushing something in the toilet, which the police suspected was shabu.
Greco, speaking to reporters following his arrest, denied the allegations, insisting that he did not own the confiscated drug paraphernalia.
He also denied doing indiscriminate firing in their area in Barangay San Juan.
But he admitted that he owned the firearms, saying they are just toys.
On the allegation that he is a drug pusher, he opted not to comment.
Greco’s sister and former Cebu Provincial Board member Grecilda “Gigi” Sanchez-Zaballero said she was shocked when she heard of the arrest of her brother.
She said Greco went to reside in Tuburan about a year ago to undergo “self-rehabilitation.”
She added that she had an agreement with Greco that the latter would stay in Tuburan to avoid peer pressure and the temptation of engaging in illegal activities.
Grecilda said that Greco was with his three children in Tuburan.
“(Yesterday) happens to be one of those days that I fear the most. I wish for peace in our family instead of finding him getting entangled with the law,” Grecilda said.
In an earlier interview, Grecilda said Greco, now 42, has undergone rehabilitation 18 times in the past to treat his drug addiction, which started when he was a teenager, even when their father was still alive.
(The older Sanchez, then a sitting vice governor, died on April 29, 2011 after battling lung cancer.)
With the arrest of the son of the former vice governor and the arrest of the former mayor of Medellin, Espino said it showed that the police were serious in ensuring that no politician or anyone with political clout should be above the law.
He said the arrest of both Sanchez and Ramirez should serve as a warning to all elected officials, whether or not they are allies of the administration, that they would not be spared if they are involved in illegal activities or in possession of unlicensed firearms.
He urged those who still have loose firearms to voluntarily give it up to their nearest police station, as the Philippine National Police would be intensifying its drive against unlicensed firearms.
Espino likewise commended the PIB led by Yape for another successful operation.
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