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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

IS THE spate of robberies in Western Visayas a preparation for the 2010 elections?

Top police officials believe that robbery groups could be under the direction of some unscrupulous politicians out to raise funds for next year’s elections.

This, as two major robberies happened in Iloilo City and Hinigaran, Negros Occidental in a span of two days since Monday.

Around 10-12 heavily armed men raided the remittance center of Vallacar Transit, operator of Ceres Bus Liner, in Jaro, Iloilo City Monday evening.

The suspects, who were armed with M16 Armalite rifles, machine pistols and handguns, carted away an estimated P300,000 cash and personal belongings of Vallacar employees.

The Jaro police has yet to identify the suspects in the heist.

On Tuesday evening, six suspects attempted to rob almost P12 million from the RCBC Bank branch in the town of Hinigaran, some 60 kilometers south of Bacolod City.

Reports from the Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office said the heist happened 6:45pm when the RCBC Bank on Rizal Street was about to close.

Concerned bystanders reported the incident to the Hinigaran police headed by S/Insp. Sonny Boy Bernus.

Bernus together with PO3 Romelo Gentogao, PO3 Ernel Mudanza, PO1 Lyle Cañazares and PO1 Armar Mariano chased the six suspects who commandeered a tricycle as their getaway vehicle.

A running gunbattle erupted between the police and the suspects, resulting in the death of two robbers. One of the dead suspects was identified as Dennis Española of Brgy. Cansalungon in Isabela town.

Identification cards recovered from Española showed that he is an active member of the CAFGU auxiliary under the 12th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army based in Negros Occidental. The other killed suspect remains unidentified.

The four remaining suspects fled with three RCBC employees whom they used as hostages. The suspects later released the hostages at Brgy. Patique, Hinigaran

At around 11:45am Wednesday, the Hinigaran police and the 613th Provincial Mobile Group arrested suspect Ricky Billiones who is also a CAFGU member from Isabela, Negros Occidental.

The Hinigaran policemen recovered P11,958,000 cash in a sack which the suspects left inside the bank premises. Another P102,000 cash was left behind by the robbers in the tricycle along with the two hostages at Barangay Patique.

A caliber .38 revolver was recovered beside Española’s body. Also recovered were empty shells and live ammunition of caliber .9 mm pistol inside the bank and two magazine assembly of M16 Armalite rifle in the abandoned tricycle, two cellphones and a black shoulder bag allegedly belonging to Española.

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, said he went to Hinigaran to lead the investigation on the RCBC robbery.

Cuevas said he learned that the group in the RCBC heist was also tagged in several robberies in Negros Occidental in 2006, a year before the 2007 national and local elections. 

“It is possible that robbery groups will be used in the coming elections. We are watching out for them in terms of intelligence monitoring to prevent more robberies from happening,” Cuevas said.

Cuevas said he ordered all intelligence units to remain vigilant following the series of robberies in the region. He also ordered all policemen to be on alert so they can respond to any incidents in their area.

“The good thing about the Hinigaran incident is that the police reacted and chased the suspects until some of them were neutralized and arrested. Our personnel should be alert at all times,” he added.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A CONTROVERSIAL police officer is mulling suits against his superiors for alleged persecution when he was suspended for 90 days despite the dismissal of administrative charges filed against him.

C/Insp. Leroy Rapiz, former director of the 608th Provincial Mobile Group (PMG), said he is in talks with his lawyer Tranquilino Gale as regards possible countersuits against his superiors.

Rapiz said he felt abandoned and persecuted by his superior officers when persons identified with former mayor Neptali Salcedo Sr. of Sara, Iloilo filed administrative cases against him last year.

The cases stemmed from the series of random checkpoints conducted by Rapiz middle of last year in the 5th congressional district.

Salcedo alleged in the media that Rapiz harassed him in a checkpoint July 7, 2008 aside from causing “fear and terror” in their town during such operations.

On December 11, 2008, upon orders of the PNP national command, C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, tasked the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) to conduct a pre-charge investigation on the incident.

IPPO director Ricardo dela Paz recommended on December 16, 2008 that Rapiz be cleared of any liability because the random checkpoints were regular and conducted in compliance with PNP regulations.

Cuevas approved dela Paz’s report December 19, 2008. On January 22, 2009, he sent a memorandum to the PNP national command informing the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management that there was no probable cause against Rapiz.

But the PNP Regional Internal Affairs Service (RIAS) then headed by Supt. Emmanuel Ughoc conducted a motu propio (Latin for “on its initiative”) investigation into Rapiz’s case.

The RIAS invoked Section 39 of Republic Act 8551 (Philippine National Police Law) and National Police Commission Memorandum Circular No. 2007-001 in investigating Rapiz.

On March 4, 2009, the RIAS found probable cause to investigate Rapiz for alleged abuse of authority and recommended his 90-day preventive suspension which Cuevas approved May 25, 2009.

Gale appealed Rapiz’s case before the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) in Camp Crame saying the IPPO already absolved his client of all charges even before the RIAS conducted the probe and enforced the suspension.

Gale said that under the principle of exclusive jurisdiction, RIAS-6 can no longer intervene because the IPPO already took cognizance of the case.

In a resolution issued July 23, 2009, Police Director Jaime Tagaca, IAS deputy inspector, ordered the lifting of the preventive suspension against Rapiz.

Gale had requested the PRO-6 Legal Service to lift Rapiz’s suspension in a letter dated August 6.

Latest reports from Camp Delgado said Cuevas has yet to receive Tagaca’s resolution although the Regional Personnel and Human Resources Development Division and RIAS have received copies of the resolution.

Cuevas said he will wait for a copy of the resolution before acting on the request.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

POLICE have a free hand on what to do with the alleged kidnap for ransom (KFR) group that was spotted in Iloilo City.

C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, said he ordered intelligence operatives to verify and confirm the presence of the KFR group in the metropolis.

Text messages circulated in the city since last week regarding a group of men roaming the city onboard a Mitsubishi Delica van. The suspicious-looking men were also said to be using a sedan and another van in their “surveillance” operations.

Cuevas said police officers who will confirm and spot these alleged kidnappers will deal with the suspects accordingly.

City Hall sources said an unidentified Ilonggo-Chinese businessman reportedly sought the help of Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas after he spotted a group of persons taking pictures of his home and businesses.

The businessman is a distributor of junk food and has a warehouse in the city.

Treñas said the alleged presence of the KFR group is still raw and under verification by the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) intelligence section.

S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal, ICPO director, said the intelligence section and the six district police stations are still authenticating the KFR group’s presence in the city.

Mongcal said he also received text messages on the alleged kidnappers “and we had the information processed by our operatives.”

“We relayed the plate numbers of the vehicles mentioned in text messages to our police stations so they can watch out and validate the information. There is no confirmation yet that these alleged kidnappers are roaming the city,” Mongcal said.   

Mongcal said the information they have right now is “very sketchy” and has no specific target or victim.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE police in Western Visayas are on heightened alert following the series of bombings in Mindanao since Sunday which killed 13 people.

C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, said Director Gen. Jesus Verzosa, PNP chief, has ordered all units in Luzon and Visayas to go on heightened alert status.

Cuevas said police units in the region were ordered to maximize police visibility and conduct checkpoints in their areas of responsibility.

The alert levels were raised in the three major regions in the country to “prevent the situation from getting out of hand.”

In Iloilo City, Mayor Jerry Treñas ordered the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) to conduct checkpoints and maximize police visibility in the metropolis.

“We will maximize police visibility not only because of what’s happening in Mindanao but to make Iloilo very safe for all of us,” Treñas said.

Treñas also ordered the ICPO to secure churches and establishments even if there are no specific threats from terrorists.

A powerful blast took place outside the Immaculate Conception cathedral in Cotabato City while churchgoers were attending Mass past 8 am Sunday. Five people died on the spot while another died during treatment Tuesday.

On Tuesday morning, another bomb exploded meters away from a church in Jolo while military and police bomb disposal units were detonating another bomb. Six more people died and more than 40 others were hurt in the blast.

It was followed by another explosion in Iligan City around 10:30 am. The bomb that exploded was rigged into a car parked at the corner of Sabayle Street and Cabili Avenue, a few meters away from the city port. The blast killed one and wounded 10 people.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

A NEOPHYTE cop is detained at the Iloilo City proper police station for allegedly peeping on a female police chief inspector inside the headquarters of Police Regional Office (PRO-6).

 

PO1 Rolando dela Cruz of Bolilao, Mandurriao, Iloilo City is under investigation for slipping inside the ladies’ comfort room of the Bachelor Officer’s Quarters (BOQ) in Camp Delgado.

 

Insp. Louie Barrientos claimed he saw dela Cruz stepping inside the ladies’ CR even though the latter’s quarters was in the Sumakwel Hall beside the BOQ.

 

Barrientos then went inside the male CR of the BOQ across the ladies room, put off the lights and watched if the neophyte cop will return.

 

Barrientos said dela Cruz did return to the CR and peeped inside one of the cubicles where the female chief inspector was taking a bath.

 

He then challenged dela Cruz to state his name but the latter said “Patya na lang ako sir (Kill me sir).”

 

Barrientos then arrested dela Cruz who resisted responding police officers.

 

Prior to Wednesday’s incident, dela Cruz was also tagged in a “peeping” episode last May 3 involving a female Police Officer 3 who was also taking a bath inside the same CR.

 

The victim confirmed that dela Cruz as the voyeur.

 

Dela Cruz refused to state his side to the media.

 

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, said he has ordered a thorough investigation on the incident to give justice to both dela Cruz and his victims.

 

“If we prove that he indeed peeped inside the CR while a female officer was taking a bath, he can be dismissed from service for grave misconduct,” Cuevas said.

 

Cuevas said they have to make sure about what happened “because these neophyte cops go inside CRs to fetch water because we don’t have enough water supply in the camp.”

 

Dela Cruz will be sued for unjust vexation aside from the administrative charges.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

A TOTAL of 81 police officers from Western Visayas were deployed to Sulu province in Mindanao since Holy Week.

 

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, confirmed the deployment which included 35 cops who were relieved and underwent training for alleged involvement in illegal activities.

 

The other 46 police officers underwent training at the 6th Regional Mobile Group in Brgy. Bakias, Bacolod City.

 

The two groups of police officers were combined to form a single team that was deployed to Mindanao.

 

Cuevas said the team was deployed to help in rescue Italian Eugenio Vagni of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) who was kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf members.

 

Vagni is believed to be in Indanan, Sulu.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Police Regional Office (PRO-6) has intensified its intelligence operations following reports of hired guns planning to make hits during Holy Week.

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PRO-6 director, said they are verifying the intelligence report about a pickup truck, allegedly carrying assassins, that managed to slip past a police checkpoint the other day.

Who is their target? Police could not say.

Police verified the plate number of the truck and found out that it was assigned to a Honda CRV.

“We have deployed our intelligence operatives to dig deeper into this. We don’t want these hired guns to kill somebody during one of the most sacred events of Christianity,” Cuevas said.

As part of their preparation for the Holy Week, the PRO-6 has cancelled the vacation leaves – approved and pending – of all police personnel in the region.

“We want to maintain our whole force and send them to the field during the Lenten season. Maximum police visibility through patrols and checkpoints will be mounted to secure travelers and churchgoers,” Cuevas said.

The PRO-6 said the whole police force in the region will be on heightened alert starting Holy Monday next week.

Iloilo Provincial Police Office director Ricardo dela Paz said 63 police officers including 18 police inspectors were added to their force in time for the Holy Week, adding that all police stations in Iloilo province are on alert for the one-week religious affair.

He advised the public to observe Lent and avoid taking too much liquor which might lead to trouble.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

AROUND 60 percent of households in Arevalo, Iloilo City are engaged in firecracker manufacturing and most of them have no permits from the City government and the PNP, according to the Firearms Explosives Security Agencies and Guards Supervision (Fesags-6) office.

Supt. Lope Manlapaz, Fesags-6 chief, said this statistic is the reason why they encourage local firecracker makers to secure permits from their office and the City Hall to ensure the safety of their workers and the community.

Manlapaz said manufacturers who register with Fesags are required to observe safety measures such as the distance of the factory from residential areas.

SPO1 Benjamin Toledo of Fesags said manufacturers must locate their factories in large areas because work huts for mixing and packing of pyrotechnics must be 300-400 meters apart from each other.

Another factor that discourages firecracker makers from securing permits is the P5,000 fee they have to pay during registration.

Fesags-6 officials also observed that manufacturers don’t bother to get permits from the PNP after they have been issued business permits by the City Hall.

As of yesterday, only 10 firecracker manufacturers from Negros Occidental, Bacolod City and Capiz have filed their registration documents with Fesags-6.

Aside from the manufacturers, 37 dealers and 1 retailer in Western Visayas also applied for permits with Fesags.

Manlapaz said they have evaluated and forwarded the applications to the Firearms and Explosives Division (FED) in Camp Crame which will issue the permits.

“The Fesags will only facilitate their documents as only the FED can issue the permits,” Manlapaz said.

Manlapaz said a cooperative of firecracker makers in Iloilo City also processed their permits with Fesags “but we asked them to return because they still lack some documents.”

Last November 15, the Iloilo City Police Office 6 which covers Arevalo district conducted a seminar on stakeholders of the firecracker industry and barangay officials.

Some 150 fireworks manufacturers, dealers, retailers and barangay officials attended the activity.

The seminar covered topics on fire safety measures and Republic Act 7183 which regulates the firecracker industry.

Senior Insp. Federico Silvestre Jr., Arevalo police chief, and SPO4 Noel Rojo stressed that making and selling firecrackers such as “atomic big triangulo” and “super lolo” are prohibited by RA 7183. 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

TEN police officers in Panay did not report to the Regional Mobile Group (RMG) headquarters in Victorias, Negros Occidental for the mandatory one-month retraining.

The 10 absentee cops are SPO1 Rex delos Santos of Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO), PO1 Richard Barone of Antique PPO, PO1 Crispin Escobar of Antique PPO, PO1 Romaila Nangilimutan, PO1 Renato Pineda of Iloilo City Police Office, PO2 Ronald Palmos of IPPO, PO2 Hernie Jaminal of Guimaras PPO, PO2 Raymund Noble of Bacolod CPO, PO2 Nicolas Tampinco of Bacolod CPO and PO2 Jerry Gelpe of IPPO.

The RMG headquarters has already asked the Police Regional Office-6 to order the 10 police officers to report to Victorias City.

The absentees cops are part of the 89 police officers who were ordered to retrain in Victorias City
for alleged lack of discipline and involvement in illegal activities.

Delos Santos has been very vocal against the retraining order saying Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez was
persecuting him for his links with former Iloilo City prosecutor Efrain Baldago.

PRO-6 regional director Isagani Cuevas said he has ordered the respective mother units of the 10 cops to look and send them to the RMG headquarters.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE National Police Commission (Napolcom-6) and the Police Regional Office (PRO-6) will look into the shootout in a Shell gasoline station at Jalandoni-Delgado Streets, Iloilo City Wednesday evening to find out if members of the Regional Intelligence Office observed rules of engagement.

Chief Supt. Darius Tuazon, PRO-6 deputy director for administration, said he ordered the Regional Investigation and Detective Management Division (RIDMD) to investigate the incident following claims of overkill in the shootout.

Tuazon said they will also investigate the identities of Samuel Cioco, Gerald Emaas and Hino Balacutan who died in a hail of bullets from six RIO operatives led by Supt. Samuel Nacion.

Napolcom-6 regional director Honey Paredes said they will conduct a separate investigation on the incident to find out if it was a legitimate shootout or rubout.

Paredes said she will summon the RIO personnel involved in the shootout and ask their version of the incident.

The Napolcom chief said they will also try to determine if RIO-6 members used reasonable force in neutralizing the trio.

Paredes said it is important for the police to follow PNP rules of engagement to avoid human rights violations and other legal complications.

“We are just waiting for the official report of the PNP before we can start the investigation,” Paredes said.

A video footage by GMA TV-6 Iloilo showed RIO-6 operatives shooting the victims even if they were already lying still on the pavement. This particular scene prompted some media practitioners present to claim that it was overkill.

Recoveries from the scene of the incident indicate that the trio was outgunned with RIO operatives firing more than 40 bullets of caliber .9mm and .45 pistols.

Supt. Nacion said they used reasonable force against Cioco, Esmaa and Balacutan because the three were armed with guns and a grenade.

Nacion said one of three fatalities shot him first, prompting his fellow officers to retaliate.

Nonoy (not his real name), the gas station cashier on duty when the shootout happened, said he saw Cioco and company pass by the station.

Nonoy said he was later surprised to hear gunshots near the gas station’s coffee shop, prompting him to leave his booth and run for cover.

Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, Iloilo City police director, defended RIO operatives and denied that the incident was a rubout.

Tobias said the three were armed with guns and grenades “which can only indicate that they are to something sinister.”

“We consider what happened as a major accomplishment against crime. In fairness to RIO-6, they have been helping the Iloilo City Police Office in our anti-crime drive after the spate of violent incidents in the city. I don’t think it was a rubout because the three were considered armed and dangerous,” Tobias said.

Police: Cartagena admits role in Rojas slay case

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

DENNIS Cartagena, one of the suspects in the killing of Ajuy vice mayor Ramon Rojas, is singing like a canary.

Senior Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO) director said Cartagena has admitted his involvement in the shooting to death of Rojas in Ajuy town proper last May 22.

Dela Paz and a team of the IPPO Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat) team fetched Cartagena from Butuan City where he was arrested Sunday afternoon.

Cartagena’s co-accused, suspected triggerman Edgar Cordero, was killed in a shooting incident at Brgy. Mahay, Butuan City Friday evening. Cordero’s killers remain at-large.

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, said he dispatched dela Paz to Butuan City “to ensure the safety and security of Cartagena.”

Dela Paz said the Butuan City police turned over Cartagena to the IPPO custody yesterday morning.

“In our conversation, he admitted his participation in the assassination of vice mayor Rojas,” dela Paz said.

The IPPO director said he will reveal more details on Cartagena’s confession when they arrive in Iloilo.

Dela Paz said Cartagena’s cooperation in the investigation will resolve the Rojas slay case.

As of presstime, Cartagena and the IPPO team are on their way back to Region 6.

Cuevas said Cartagena’s statement can only corroborate the statements of other witnesses in the murder charges now pending with the Regional Trial Court.

“Under the law, the judicial confessions cannot implicate other personalities in the case but such can support the allegations of the witnesses. The suspect cannot incriminate another person but he can narrate facts that will strengthen the case,” Cuevas said.

Since Cartagena is one of the major suspects in the case, “he cannot become a witness since he is the least innocent.”

“But he will be treated as a high risk detainee because of his involvement in the case,” Cuevas said.

Cartagena is believed to be the driver of the motorcycle used in the assassination while Cordero pulled the trigger on Rojas.

Lindesy Buenavista was accused of helping plan the assassination while businessman Vicente Espinosa was the alleged mastermind.

But the Iloilo Provincial Prosecutors Office dismissed the charges against Buenavista and Espinosa.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

WHO among the police officers in Iloilo City will be banished to war-torn Mindanao for alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade?

 

Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. said he has a list of policemen allegedly protecting drug lords in the city. The names included in the list are likely candidates for a tour of duty in Mindanao, he said over Bombo Radyo-Iloilo yesterday.

 

Gonzalez said he will submit the list to Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ronaldo Puno for possible reassignment of the purported drug lord coddlers.

 

Most of the police officers included in the list are Senior Police Officers 3, Gonzalez added.

 

The DOJ chief earlier said he will recommend to Puno and PNP Director General Avelino Razon the transfer of cops suspected to be in cahoots with illegal drug traders and other criminal syndicates.

 

Gonzalez said the prospect of facing Muslim rebels in Mindanao might convince erring cops to reform.

 

Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, said Gonzalez has yet to coordinate the latter’s proposal to transfer some Iloilo City cops to Mindanao.

Cuevas said it is up to the PNP national headquarters in Camp Crame to order the reassignment provided it is necessary. 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

TOP Ilonggo officials challenged the Iloilo City Police Office to solve the rash of killings in the city even as they assured that the metropolis remains peaceful and orderly.

 

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. said he is concerned with the recent spate of murder cases in the city the past weeks.

 

The latest incident is the assassination of Iloilo provincial fire marshal Casiano del Castillo who was gunned down in Arevalo, Iloilo City Friday last week.

 

Del Castillo was walking home in Land Heights Subdivision in Arevalo when two motorcycle-riding suspects shot him to death.

 

Prior to del Castillo’s killing, American national Daniel John Chabra was stabbed to death inside his apartment also in Arevalo.

 

Eddie Pedrajas, believed to be a relative of a suspected drug lord in the city, was also gunned down in Jaro district more than a week ago.

 

Gonzalez said he has directed Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, ICPO director, to heighten their operations and resolve the three incidents.

 

“I want results when I come back next Saturday. I will not allow the peace and quiet of the city to be disturbed,” Gonzalez said.

 

The justice department said he will also discuss the peace and order situation in the city with Police Regional Office-6 director Isagani Cuevas.

 

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said the metropolis is still peaceful and orderly despite the gruesome killings.

 

Treñas said it is up to Tobias to do his best to solve the cases.

DEL CASTILLO CASE

Meanwhile, the Arevalo police continues to deepen their investigation on the del Castillo slay case.

Chief Inspector Federico Silvestre, Arevalo police chief, said one of the angles they are following is del Castillo’s spat with his colleagues at the Bureau of Fire Prevention.

 

Silvestre said the del Castillo’s wife revealed some information to them relative to the intra-office dispute involving the slain fire official.

 

The Arevalo police have profiled del Castillo’s shooter based on eyewitness accounts. The suspect is believed to be a former security guard and a native of Maasin, Iloilo who has standing warrants of arrest of various criminal charges.

 

But Silvestre said they are continue to establish the identity and involvement of the suspect in the slay case “because this is a heinous crime and we want to make sure of our case.”

 

“If we make a mistake, it would be hard for us to start from square one,” he added.

 

Secretary Gonzalez said he also received information on the squabble between del Castillo and other BFP officials.

 

Gonzalez said issues of corruption, personal grudge and professional rivalry may have something to do with del Castillo’s death.

“I already gave the lead to Cuevas, Tobias and the National Bureau of Investigation. It is up to them to develop their case,” Gonzalez added. 

The report on the existence of an alleged illegal drug ring at Smallville business and leisure park has spurred police to heighten security in the area even as the PDEA is requesting establishments to submit their workers to drug tests. (Photo by Tara Yap)

The report on the existence of an alleged illegal drug ring at Smallville business and leisure park has spurred police to heighten security in the area even as the PDEA is requesting establishments to submit their workers to drug tests. (Photo by Tara Yap)

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

WORKERS of establishments at Smallville business and leisure complex in Mandurriao, Iloilo City will be asked to undergo drug tests, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA-6).

Senior Supt. Roybel Sanchez, PDEA-6 regional head, said he personally asked the owners and managers of Smallville to have their employees checked for illegal drugs during their meeting with Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas Friday last week.

Sanchez said they cannot avoid entertaining the idea that some of the Smallville employees might be using illegal drugs considering that most of them work from night until the wee hours of the morning.

Sanchez said the drug test will ensure that none of the workers in the popular leisure strip are using prohibited substances.

Smallville hogged the headlines the past weeks after PDEA confirmed the existence of an alleged illegal drug ring inside the area.

Citing two successful test buys and intelligence reports, PDEA officials said shabu, Ecstacy and marijuana are the substances most popular among Smallville patrons who are mostly teenagers and young professionals.

But Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, denied the proliferation of illegal drugs inside Smallville.

Despite their clashing statements, Cuevas, Sanchez and the Smallville establishment owners and managers met at Treñas’ office to discuss possible measures to prevent illegal drugs from proliferating in the popular night spot.

Cuevas said they will put up checkpoints around Smallville even as they will deploy more intelligence personnel to monitor pushers and other criminals.

Councilor Ely Estante, chairman of Task Force Adams Apple which monitors night spots in the city, said it is possible that illegal drugs is circulating inside Smallville.

Estante, who was present in the meeting, said it would be better for the police and PDEA to keep an eye on the leisure park instead of bickering over intelligence reports.

Treñas said Smallville establishments are willing to cooperate with the police in keeping peace and order inside their businesses.

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