A timeline on Franz Sabalones: From confession to death

By Benjie B. Talisic, Morexette Marie B. Erram |April 18,2019 - 04:51 PM

 

Franz Sabalones, whom the police tagged as one of the biggest drug lords in Central Visayas, surrenders to then PNP chief, General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa on August 9, 2016. /Inquirer.net file photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Wearing a plain white T-shirt, a pair of ordinary black, denim jeans, and with a ball cap on his head, Franz Sabalones looked like any ordinary drug surrenderer when he waived the white flag in the presence of then Philippine National Police (PNP) General Ronald ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa last August 9, 2016.

But Sabalones was more than just a drug surrenderer.

On that eventful day, months after President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office and declared a bloody war against illegal drugs, the native of San Fernando town in southeastern Cebu publicly confessed that he was one of Cebu’s top drug personalities, and even took the reigns of the illegal drugs operations of slain Cebu top drug lord Jeffrey ‘Jaguar’ Diaz.

Sabalones’ claims not only surprised the Cebu community but the entire nation as well, especially when he started narrating how he became one of the province’s biggest supplier of illegal drugs from being a traffic enforcer in Cebu City earning a measly income. 

Eventually, the name Franz Sabalones would be found on nearly every police report pertaining to arrests or deaths or both of suspected drug personalities in Cebu, who included police officers and elected public officials accused of receiving drug money from him.

CDN Digital has come up with a timeline of all news items related to Sabalones — from his surrender and admission in August 2016, to his death on April 18, 2019.

August 2016 

Sabalones decided to surrender before authorities last August 2016 when his brother, San Fernando Vice Mayor Fralz Sabalones was included in the government’s so-called narco-list or list of public officials allegedly involved in the illegal drugs trade.

The Sabalones brothers went to Camp Crame on August 8, 2016: Franz to admit being a drug lord and Fralz to clear his name.

READ MORE: SABALONES SURRENDERS

The former admitted his involvement in the illegal drugs trade and volunteered to help the police in their campaign.

As a result, Sabalones reportedly ratted out before the top official of PNP the names of police officers, politicians, and other individuals who allegedly received drug payola from him.

September 26, 2016

A few months later, a formal investigation was initiated to determine the veracity of Sabalones’ claims.

This resulted to another round of revamp among officials of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) who were accused of receiving drug payola from Sabalones, who allegedly included Superintendents Rex Derilo and George Ylanan.

READ MORE: PROBE STARTS TODAY

Both Derilo and Ylanan were reassigned to Mindanao. 

But some of the PRO-7 officials accused even threatened to file a P10-million lawsuit against Sabalones for linking them to the illegal drugs trade.

October 31, 2016

Police later on arrested several cohorts of Sabalones in their anti-drug operations, and questions whether the self-confessed drug lord stayed true to his vow to quit the illegal drugs trade started to float. 

READ MORE: Cohort of suspected drug lord in Cebu, 2 nabbed in buy-bust

READ MORE: Abacahan wanted dead or alive

READ MORE: Sabalones underlings arrested

January 18, 2017

In a resolution dated on January 18, 2017, the Court of Appeals (CA) ordered to freeze bank accounts and properties belonging to Sabalones which includes P76 million money from his three bank accounts, six lots, a beach resort in San Fernando, six Sports Utility Vehicles and a 6.4 hectare poultry farm.

READ MORE: CA orders freeze on Sabalones’ bank accounts, properties

The freeze order was in relation to the investigation conducted by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to determine whether or not Sabalones’ assets were purchased through drug money. 

March 9 & 10, 2017

Sabalones was placed under the custody of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) when formal charges for violating the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 were filed against him.

But not for long.

Sabalones was reportedly ordered to be released from police custody. Since then until his death on April 18, 2019 in Quezon City, Metro Manila, his whereabouts became a mystery.

READ MORE: Sabalones no longer under CIDG custody – Cebu Daily News

June 2017

Since Sabalones apparently went off-grid, police officers in Cebu are starting to question if the self-confessed drug lord stayed true to his vow to quit the illegal drugs trade, especially when police began to notice that some of his alleged cohorts are still peddling illegal drugs.

READ MORE: Cop chief wants to know if Sabalones quit drug trade – Cebu Daily News

July 7, 2017

But on July 7, 2017, the identities of public officials accused of coddling Sabalones’ illegal activities were made public, especially when police arrested three public officials from San Fernando town, a known Sabalones turf, for illegal possession of firearms.

These officials, too, were accused of having links to Sabalones

READ MORE: NARCO-POLITICS

July 18, 2017

Following the arrests of alleged narco-politicians and cohorts linked to their client, the camp of Sabalones requested the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to monitor his activities, to prove that he is no longer in the illegal drugs trade.

READ MORE: Self-confessed drug lord Sabalones to ask NBI to monitor his activities

June 2018

Nearly two years since he made his confession, and surrendered before the police, Sabalones’ name resurfaced on police reports when three alleged narco-cops or policemen accused of coddling drug lords were gunned down by unidentified assailants in a span of 10 days.

One of them, according to initial police findings, had links with Sabalones.

READ MORE: 3 Cebu ‘narco-cops’ slain in 10 days

READ MORE: Person of interest in Tilos slay identified – Cebu Daily News – Inquirer.net

January 2019

Things surrounding Sabalones took an even sharper turn when two public officials in San Fernando – Johnny Arriesgado and Rene Boy Dacalos – were killed in separate ambush incidents. Arriesgado was previously arrested for illegal possession of firearms last July 2017. 

Johnny Arriesgado (left), Reneboy Dacalos (right)
PHOTO COURTESY OF SAN FERNANDO OFFICIAL WEBSITE

Both Arriesgado and Dacalos were accused of having links with Sabalones. Their deaths came days after one of Sabalones’ alleged aide, identified as Tolencio Ababon, was also killed.

READ MORE: Police: San Fernando barangay chief’s death may be linked to drugs

At this point, more cohorts linked to Sabalones were killed either during police operations or by unidentified suspects.

Police Brigadier General Debold Sinas, director of PRO- 7,  said they were now closely monitoring the activities of Sabalones’ underlings, especially that the May 2019 midterm elections is drawing near.

READ MORE: Sinas: Sabalones underlings regrouping to fund campaign of some local candidates  

READ MORE: Sabalones ‘aide’ killed in Argao ambush

READ MORE: Police looking into “emerging drug group” in Cebu – Cebu Daily News

READ MORE: Three dead in Balamban, Argao buy-bust shootouts; cops seize P14 …

On January 22, 2019, San Fernando Mayor Lakambini Reluya, her husband Panadtaran Barangay Captain Nonoy Reluya, and four others were ambushed along N. Bacalso Avenue in Barangay Linao, Talisay City.

A police yellow line cordons the bullet-riddled van of San
Fernando Mayor Lakambini “Neneth” Reluya that was ambushed in Barangay Linao, Talisay City past 6 p.m. on Jan. 22, 2019. The mayor survived the attack but her husband, Ricardo, and two others were killed. |CDNDigital file photo

Police identified the gunmen as Felix Abacaja Jr. and Jerome Labitad, both of whom were allegedly working for Sabalones before. However, they are considering politics as the motive behind the ambush.

READ MORE: Police to file charges against suspects in Reluya ambush

READ MORE: Bloody night in Talisay City claims 4 lives, including town mayor’s …

March 1, 2019

Police raided a house owned by Sabalones located in a subdivision in Minglanilla town, Cebu. They seized several high-powered firearms but no illegal drugs.

READ MORE: Police raid house of confessed drug lord Franz Sabalones in Minglanilla

March 8, 2019

A police officer formerly assigned in Central Visayas was killed in Talisay City. The victim identified as Police Staff Sergeant Mikie Espina allegedly had links with Sabalones.

READ MORE: Slain Talisay cop has unexplained P140 million in … – Cebu Daily News

March 14, 2019

San Fernando Vice Mayor Fralz Sabalones says his brother Franz, a self-confessed drug lord, is no longer involved in the illegal drug trade since his surrender to the authorities. With him is lawyer Louie Arma (right). They launched a booklet authored by Franz, Say No to Drugs, Yes to Jesus Christ on March 10, 2017. | CDN file photo

San Fernando Vice Mayor Fralz Sabalones, the brother of Franz, was once again tagged as a drug protector by President Rodrigo Duterte. However, Fralz has since took a leave of absence from his work as vice mayor and his whereabouts has remained a mystery.

READ MORE: Where is San Fernando Vice Mayor Fralz Sabalones?

April 10, 2019

P1.8 million worth of shabu was confiscated from an alleged former aide of Sabalones

READ MORE: Arrest of Franz Sabalones’ alleged former aide yields P1.8M worth of …

READ MORE: Sabalones and former aide may still be working together — police

April 18, 2019

On Maundy Thursday, Sabalones was shot dead by still unidentified assailants while he was about to enter into a billiard bar along Timog Avenue in Quezon City, Metro Manila. Investigators from the Quezon City Police Department (QCPD) said Sabalones was positively identified by his cousin.

READ MORE: Top Cebu drug lord shot dead in Manila

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