By Marie Tonette Marticio
PALO, Leyte — Police Brig. Gen. Dionardo Carlos, Eastern Visayas Police director, has confirmed that they intercepted 88.49 kilograms of shabu with an estimated worth of P600 million which is their biggest seizure in their anti-illegal drugs campaign in the region so far.
Joint operatives of Gandara Municipal Police, Samar Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit and Regional Drug Enforcement Unit (RDEU) intercepted two vehicles carrying the contraband at Brgy. Buñagan, Gandara, Samar Thursday night.
Carlos revealed that the seized illegal drugs had the same packaging as the 9.7 kgs. of shabu recovered last August in Biri, Northern Samar.
“During my watch, ayoko ng ganitong mga discovery ng shabu that’s why we worked to watch our shorelines and our ports. Because of that lead, nagsimula kaming tumingin if there were previous transport of illegal drugs with the same packaging. Our RDEU alerted our line units during our regular weekly oversight committee meetings to follow up and eventually we had a breakthrough through our intel and Deputy Regional Director for Operations that they were being transported within our area of responsibility,” he disclosed.
They also learned that a shipment was transported from Matnog, Sorsogon to Allen and San Isidro Port in Northern Samar, which prompted them to conduct checkpoints.
The seized illegal drugs allegedly came from two different sources in Imus, Cavite and in Quezon City.
Capt. Joselito Tabada, Gandara Police Chief, said the suspects, onboard two vehicles, one driven by Cesar Uy with two passengers identified as Steven Perez and a minor, and another driven by Elbert Abella with passengers Jeralou Laborte and Leonard delos Reyes were heading towards Ormoc City when they were flagged down in a checkpoint along Maharlika Highway in the said municipality.
The suspects who claimed to be not acquainted with each other allegedly met at Coral Reef Resort in Calbayog City, upon the instructions of their boss whom they refused to identify.
“We were supposed to ride the ship going to Cebu from Calbayog City, and leave the vehicle, including the keys at the parking lot of SM Mabolo. We were given P20 thousand initially, and were promised to receive P50 thousand each after the transaction,” Uy said.
They also admitted to having knowledge that they were transporting contraband, but didn’t know the worth. One vehicle contained 25 packs or 50 kgs., of alleged shabu, while the other car was carrying 19 packs or 37.61 kgs. of alleged illegal drugs. Authorities also recovered drug paraphernalia from the two vehicles.
“My friend who used to deal drugs offered me a job because I was a user then. We had our first transaction in August this year where we traveled from Manila to Cebu via cargo shipping in Calbayog City. But since there was no ship today, we decided to proceed to Ormoc going through Cebu. We didn’t want to wait in Calbayog because the owner kept on calling us and was in a hurry,” Uy revealed.
The apprehended suspects and the seized items were immediately brought to the police station where cases for violation of Republic Act 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 will be filed against them.
Why Espenido was transferred
Meanwhile, at a gathering of businessmen at The Manila Hotel where he was guest of honor Thursday night, President Duterte intimated why the controversial Lt. Col Jovie Espenido was moved to Bacolod as city director for operations.
Espenido rose to fame after two suspected narco-politicians ended up dead during his stint as police chief in Albuera, Leyte, and Ozamiz City.
Espenido was the chief of police of Albuera when the drug-linked mayor Rolando Espinosa was shot dead inside his jail cell in 2016. A year later, Espenido as Ozamiz police chief led the drug raids that led to the killing of Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and several others.
After the Ozamiz operation that neutralized the Parojinog clan, Duterte gave Espenido a special award for his outstanding performance in the anti-illegal drug operations in Eastern Visayas and Ozamiz City.
Duterte said Espenido is the answer to Bacolod City’s current drug problem.
“Bacolod is badly hit now. I placed Espenido there, yung kinatakutan nila na pulis (the policeman they are scared of),” he told the gathering.
“Sabi ko (I said), ‘Go there and you are free to kill everybody.’… ‘Start killing them. Dalawa na tayo magpa-preso (Let’s just go to jail together),’” he said in jest.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo shared that he was in Bacolod recently and was approached by persons complaining about the drug problem in the area and relayed this to the President.
“Sabi niya sa akin na, ‘Kaya nandyan si Espenido. ‘Yan ang response ko diyan sa problema nila sa Bacolod (He told me, ‘That’s why Espenido is there. That’s my response to their problem in Bacolod),’” he added. (With a report from Argyll Cyrus Geducos)