CEBU STILL A DRUG HOTSPOT
PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde also finds it disturbing there are still ‘a lot of policemen’ involved in the drug trade
Close to two years have passed since the government started its all-out war against illegal drugs.
Not much, however, has changed in Cebu.
Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde on Friday said Cebu remains a “hotspot” for illegal drugs.
“No less than the President has said that the severe drug problem continues to flourish in the province (of Cebu) despite our intense campaign against illegal drugs,” he said in a speech delivered before over a hundred policemen at the headquarters of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7).
“And what is more disturbing is that there are still a lot of policemen who are involved in this illicit activity,” he added.
Albayalde, who assumed the country’s top police position last April 19, did not reveal any figure but gave a stern warning to all policemen to stop any
involvement in the narcotics trade or they will regret their actions.
Sleeping on the job, riding a motorcycle without a helmet, failure to wear the proper police uniform, and texting while on duty, he added, would not be tolerated as well.
“Let this be a warning to all of you. I don’t want any of my men causing trouble and putting the entire organization in a bad light. Remember, we are not paid to do this horrible acts. As public servants, we should all serve with honesty, honor, and integrity,” he said.
Known as a stickler for discipline, Albayalde said he will not stop until the last rogue policeman is out of the organization.
“Let me be clear in this: We will be zero-tolerant on internal cleansing. I’ll be very strict in our campaign in cleansing our ranks,” he said.
Since the war on drugs started on July 1, 2016, at least 200 policemen in Central Visayas, most of whom were assigned in Cebu, were relieved from their posts and transferred by Camp Crame either to the rebel-infested areas in Luzon or to war-torn areas in Mindanao.
The revamp, implemented by then PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, was made to disrupt illegal drug activities in Cebu following reports that these policemen were receiving money from drug lords.
Albayalde said the Philippine National Police continues to monitor a number of policemen in Cebu who are reportedly still linked to the narcotics trade.
While the internal cleansing continues, he urged the local police to step up its campaign against illegal drugs.
“We have a promise to fulfill to our citizenry and to the President. We will not stop until the last drug supplier, coddler, and pusher are put behind bars. And I expect you to double your efforts in doing this,” Albayalde said.
Lim, Loot still being monitored
He said a special police unit is also monitoring the activities of Cebu businessman Peter Lim and Mayor Vicente Loot of Daanbantayan town in northern Cebu — both of whom were publicly identified by President Rodrigo Duterte as having a hand in the illegal drugs trade.
“We are not letting our guards down. We need to conduct a case buildup (against Lim and Loot) and if we find sufficient evidence against them, then we will file the appropriate charges,” he said.
Both Lim and Loot have repeatedly denied any involvement in the illegal drugs trade.
Lim, whose name repeatedly cropped up in drug investigations since 2001, is being investigated by the Department of Justice.
On the other hand, Loot, a retired police general, is still waiting for any probe so he can clear his name.
Cebu has been home to a number of suspected drug personalities based on the monitoring of the PNP.
Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz, considered to be the top drug lord in Central Visayas, allegedly operated for years before he was gunned down by Cebu-based policemen in an operation in Las Piñas City in Metro Manila on June 17.
Two other Cebuanos — Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr. and Franz Sabalones — have confessed participation in the narcotics trade.
Espinosa, dubbed as the biggest drug lord in Eastern Visayas, started his drug operations in Cebu before he transferred to Albuera town in Leyte. He was arrested by the police in Abu Dhabi in October 2016.
Sabalones surrendered to the PNP chief in August 2016 and admitted running a drug group in Cebu.
Sabalones, a native of San Fernando town in southern Cebu, has since been released from detention while the Department of Justice is conducting an investigation against him.
Albayalde called on the local police to do their best to contain, if not to eradicate, the illegal drugs trade in Cebu.
“I urge you to step up your campaign in fighting the evils of illegal drugs,” he said.
And to carry out the task, he added, entails discipline on the part of the police.
“As I took the helm of the PNP, I have waged my strong will to pursue for a disciplined police organization. Basic as it may seem, this reform will be the most important thing that must be instilled to every police officer so we can provide genuine public service to the Filipino people,” he added.
In his first visit to Cebu as the chief PNP, Albayalde was accompanied by his wife and daughter.
Albayalde attended the Tactical, Survival and Arms Expo at the SM City Trade Hall in the morning of Friday before he proceeded to the PRO-7 headquarters where he was given arrival honors in the presence of police officials in Cebu.
During the celebration, he awarded some policemen with the Medalya ng Kagalingan (PNP Medal of Merit) for arresting drug personalities in Cebu.
Before the program ended, Albayalde was given an image of the Sto. Niño de Cebu.
A few hours before Albayalde’s visit, police arrested a suspected drug pusher and seized about P1 million worth of shabu in a drug bust in Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City, on Thursday evening.
Seized from Ukihiro Zosa, 25, were five medium and four large packs of suspected shabu.
Charges for possession and selling of illegal drugs were being prepared against Zosa.
In Lapu-Lapu City, a suspected drug peddler was killed while three others were arrested by police in three separate buy-bust operation in Lapu-Lapu City on Thursday evening.
Ronnie Mayol, 44, of Sitio Saac, Barangay Buaya, Lapu-Lapu City, was dead when he arrived at the hospital after sustaining gunshot wounds in the body.
Chief Insp. Jaime Tolentino, chief of the Pusok Police Station, said Mayol pulled out a handgun and fired at the police upon sensing he was transacting with cops, but was killed when the policemen retaliated.
Police recovered 15 small sachets of shabu from Mayol, the P200 buy-bust money, P400 believed to be proceeds of selling drugs and a .38 revolver with two live ammunition and one misfired bullet.
In a separate operation on Thursday night, policemen led by Senior Insp. Genesis Aniversario arrested Artemio Patikan, 37, in Sitio Kalubihan, Barangay Pajac, Lapu-Lapu City. Recovered from him were 42 small sachets of suspected shabu worth P29,736, a .22 revolver with seven bullets, P500 buy-bust money and P300 believed to be proceeds of selling illegal drugs.
Before the night ended, at 11 p.m. another drug operation led to the arrest of Makiraga Pabilla, 22, and Alinor Mangondatu, 29, in Ceres, Barangay Gun-ob, Lapu-Lapu City. Recovered from them were eight medium packs of suspected shabu worth P472,000, P500 bill on top of wad papers as marked money and P250 believed to be drug money. /With reports from Nestle L. Semilla, Benjie B. Talisic and Norman V. Mendoza
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