Ermita officials linked to P5M confiscated drugs
A drug suspect arrested by agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA-7) with about P5 million worth of illegal drugs on Monday, August 28, has tagged Ermita barangay officials as alleged conduits.
Norman Cristobal, 43, a resident of Ermita, did not resist arrest during a drug bust conducted in the barangay, a drug-prone area.
Cristobal’s wife Jovelyn eluded authorities.
The couple was considered high-value targets by PDEA-7 for their alleged involvement in the illegal drugs trade.
The PDEA-7 agents were able to seize one large pack and 14 sachets of a white crystalline substance believed to be shabu with a street value of at least P5 million.
Cristobal admitted that they were involved in the illegal drugs trade and confessed to the PDEA-7 that they connived with some barangay officials, said PDEA-7 spokesperson Leia Albiar in a press conference.
Albiar, however, refused to reveal the names of these barangay officials while an investigation is being conducted.
“We still need to verify first the names of these public servants involved in their illegal activities,” she said.
According to Albiar, for “security reasons”, PDEA-7 decided to conduct the drug bust without the help of Ermita barangay officials.
Charges for violating Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, particularly for selling illegal drugs, will be filed against the Norman and Jovelyn Cristobal at the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office.
The offense is non-bailable.
Jovelyn, who remains at large, will however undergo the regular preliminary investigation.
Albiar said Jovelyn was the main target of the operation.
“Jovelyn was really our main target. But we also got her husband who knew about the illegal activities of his wife,” she said.
Cristobal, an auto mechanic, reportedly helped his wife in selling shabu in Ermita.
Reports on the alleged involvement of Ermita barangay officials in the couple’s drug trade did not catch Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña by surprise.
Osmeña believes that Ermita Barangay Captain Felicisimo “Imok” Rupinta has something to do with the proliferation of illegal drugs in the village.
“Of course, we all know that. Rupinta is a protector. That is why they are suspended. We know that all along,” he said in a press conference yesterday.
Rupinta and his seven councilmen were earlier suspended for six months by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for allegedly refusing to cooperate in an anti-drugs operation by PDEA-7 last November 2016. Their suspension ended last July 31.
Osmeña said the city’s drug lord, Rowen “Yawa” Secretaria, prospered under the administration of Rupinta.
“Where did this Yawa come from? How did he become a drug lord? Where is his home base? Ermita. How can you prosper in a place like that if the barangay officials are doing their job,” he said.
Secretaria was killed in a police operation in Bohol last May 28, 2016.
Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, deputy mayor on police matters, urged PDEA-7 to divulge the names of village officials engaged in the drug trade to avoid “clouds of doubt.”
“What is important is, PDEA should made public the names of those barangay officials allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade. This is to also clear things out,” he said.
“If they don’t name names, all barangay officials will be dragged into the issue,” Tumulak added.
Cebu Daily News tried to contact Rupinta but he did not answer the calls. Text messages sent to him yesterday were also left unanswered.
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