By Aaron Recuenco
Drug cartels may now be targeting two high-ranking officials of the government following a major disruption in their operation when the ‘war rooms’ of big-time drug lords were demolished inside the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City.
Both PNP Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar and Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Bantag caught the ire of drug lords operating in the country when they initiated the demolition of ‘kubols’ which serve as war rooms of rich and influential drug lords at the NBP.
“I personally declared war against the big-time drug lords and cartels when I joined hands with BuCor Director General Gerald Bantag in demolishing the kubols in the Bilibid a few months back,” said Eleazar in his speech during an oath-taking and donning of rank ceremony for his promotion to three-star rank.
“In the process, General Bantag and myself must now be in the top of the hit list of the drug cartels,” he added.
Eleazar explained that he gave particular attention to government detention facilities, particularly the NBP, as they have become both a comfort zone and center of operations of big-time drug lords in the country with the help of corrupt prison officials.
This is one of the reasons, according to Eleazar, why the Philippines has been plagued by illegal drugs problems.
Eleazar said the involvement of convicted drug lords in proliferation of illegal drugs was confirmed by intelligence and ground operations they conducted in the last three key positions he held—director of the Quezon City Police District, director of the CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) police and Metro Manila top cop.
By comfort zone, Eleazar explained that the New Bilibid Prisons for instance became a secured place for drug lords amid the aggressive drug war launched by President Duterte.
And by war room, Eleazar said the drug lords continue to command and control their respective drug syndicates which have been operating in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, in cahoots with the corrupt prison guards of the NBP.
“The kubols, with all the amenities of a hotel suite, house the big drug lords that have been imprisoned. And it is from there that these drug lords control and coordinate the movement and distribution of illegal drugs in the country,” said Eleazar.
When Bantag was appointed as BuCor chief, he immediately requested for back up from then Metro Manila police chief Eleazar after he implemented a purging of corrupt prison guards at the NBP.
Eleazar, with a go-signal from Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano, sent more than 500 policemen to act as prison guards.
“I told myself that this is the opportunity I have been waiting to finally put a stop to the glory days of these drug lords because almost all of the big operations in Metro Manila pointed to the Bilibid as the location where the command and control of drug circulation emanates,” said Eleazar.
In order to maximize the effort against the drug lords at the Bilibid, Eleazar also initiated the alliance of the National Capital Region Police Office, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) NCR, National Bureau of Investigation NCR and the military’s Joint Task Force NCR to form the Quad-Intel Force.
The Quad-Intel Force set up a liaison office at the NBP to serve as the eyes and ears of Bantag to the extent of operations of convicted drug lords inside the NBP.
A few weeks later, both Bantag and Eleazar agreed to demolish the kubols of the drug lords.
BRING IT ON!
Amid the threats from drug cartels after the demolition, Eleazar said that he continued to work with Bantag in order to deny the drug lords the opportunity to operate.
In fact, he said he even proposed to Bantag the intensified monitoring and implementation of strict security measures in other penal colonies under the BuCor.
“I am up to the challenge even if it means risking my life. I shall work to wipe out all the kubols in all other penal colonies in the country. This will be my war,” said Eleazar.
“We draw the strength from the fact that President Duterte has our back in this effort to wage a war against illegal drugs. We have seen how the aggressive campaign against illegal drugs made our streets safer and eventually restored the trust and confidence of the people to the police, to the government,” he added.