By Malu Cadelina Manar
KIDAPAWAN CITY – Operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) arrested the newly-proclaimed chairman of a barangay in Makilala, North Cotabato, after they recovered sachets of suspected illegal drugs when they raided his house, 2 a.m., on Wednesday.
PDEA agents, mostly coming from the regional headquarters based in Koronadal City, told media here that M. Fortajada is included in the list of narco-politicians operating in North Cotabato. His name, however, was not among those listed in the document released by PDEA weeks before the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.
“Even though he wasn’t in the PDEA list which our agency published weeks ago, Fortajada has long been included in our watch list,” a PDEA agent told media here.
Fortajada, when interviewed by Catholic-run DXND, admitted having yielded to authorities when police intensified their “Operation Tokhang” in 2016.
He, a self-confessed drug user, surrendered to Makilala Mayor Rudy Caoagdan.
During the raid, PDEA operatives and their agents recovered from Fortajada’s house five sachets of what they believed was methamphetamine hydrochloride or locally known as ‘shabu’, an illegal drug; and several bullets from a pistol.
The order to search the house of Fortajada on possible possession of drugs, firearms, and explosives was issued on May 10 by Judge Alandrex Betoya of Regional Trial Court based in Kabacan, North Cotabato.
The suspect’s family cried foul and accused PDEA operatives of ‘planting’ the evidence against the barangay chairman.
Fortajada’s wife told DXND that the night before the raid, she checked on the sling bag owned by her husband but did not find any trace of shabu inside.
But Fortajada admitted he owned the bullets the PDEA recovered from his bag. The bullets, he explained, would be used during gun firing practice with Mayor Caoagdan.
The suspect was placed under the custody of Makilala PNP, while charges are being prepared against him, the PDEA said