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Ceres robbers ‘knew exactly where to go’

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE robbery of the remittance office of a bus line operator in Jaro, Iloilo City Monday evening might be an “inside job,” investigators said.

A group of 10-12 armed suspects carted away some P300,000 cash from the office of Vallacar Transit, operator of Ceres Bus Liner, at Brgy. Buhang, Jaro past 7 pm the other day.

Employees of the bus company said the suspects were on board a white Starex van and wielded M16 Armalite rifles, Uzi submachine gun and pistols.  

The van entered the Vallacar compound with ease as the gate was open while some of the guards on duty were having dinner.

Based on the accounts of Analou Fernandez, Vallacar supervisor, three suspects went inside the main office and hauled the money from the cashier. One of the suspects was disguised as a uniformed bus conductor.  The other robbers neutralized the security guards and served as lookout in and out of the compound.

The suspects also tried to forcibly open the safety vault containing P200,000 cash by shooting the lock with a 12-gauge shotgun but they failed.   

The remittance office is fashioned out of old Ceres buses, the same place where a former conductor held hostage several employees two months ago.

Apparently, the suspects struck at the time when Ceres bus conductors have just remitted their collections for the day. Some of the robbers wore ball caps while others donned masks.

Aside from the collection money, the suspects also took away the personal belongings and cash of Vallacar employees and the firearms of the four security guards on duty.

Fernandez said the suspects moved in a swift and organized manner knowing exactly where to go. The heist was over in more or less five minutes.

The suspects fled towards the municipality of Leganes. The ICPO asked help from the Iloilo Provincial Police Office to set up checkpoints in adjacent towns but they failed to net the suspects.

C/Insp. Orly Gabinete, Jaro police chief, said the suspects may have inside information on where the money was kept and when to strike.

“The suspects are certainly professionals. They moved quickly and knew where to go,” Gabinete said.

S/Supt. Melvin Moncal, ICPO director, ordered the deployment of the Special Weapons and Tactics team around the city following the heist.

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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

WHO are the first batch of Western Visayas cops who will undergo retraining at the Regional Mobile Group headquarters in Victorias City, Negros Occidental before possible deployment to Mindanao?

Based on records from the Regional Personnel and Human Resource Development Division of the Police Regional Office (PRO-6), a total of 34 cops from Region 6 provinces comprise the first batch of re-trainees.

Majority of the re-trainees are from the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) with 12 cops.

The re-trainees are: SPOI Ronaldo Alag, PO3 Allen Balledos and PO2 Dexter Jun Judilla of Aklan Provincial Police Office (APPO); PO2 Arnold Alabanzas, PO1 Noe Gallenero and PO1 Alexandro Espares of Capiz PPO; PO2 Gilbert Montibon, PO2 Nicholas Tansinco Jr. and PO1 Jose Bobby Solina of Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO); SPO2 Nicanor Gamosa, PO1 Jonnel Aficionado and PO1 Vicente Paloma of Guimaras PPO; PO2 Remy Donasco, PO1 Arnel Alada and PO1 Rommel Bellones of Iloilo PPO; PO3 Danilo Orcio, PO3 Anthony Gabiano, PO3 Eric Sinadjan, PO2 Ernie Jaminal and PO1 Jose Rey Lopez of Negros Occidental PPO; PO3 Miguel Blancia, PO3 Johnny Padernilla, PO3 Enrique Thorntorn, PO2 Ferdinand Junsan, PO2 Gerardo Ocampo, PO2 Gerwin Servano, PO2 Renato Pineda, PO2 Leo Camayudo, PO2 Angelito Silla, PO1 Rolando Denauto, PO2 Rex Wendem and PO1 Al Ribo of ICPO; SPO1 Winnie Provido and PO2 Randy Dalumpines of PRO-6.

The said cops were recommended for re-training by their respective provincial and city directors for underperformance, failure to follow directives and alleged involvement in illegal activities.

After the retraining, the 34 cops might be deployed to war-torn Mindanao if needed.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE controversial intelligence section chief of the Iloilo City Police Office has been charged with frustrated murder in relation to the August 13 shooting incident at General Luna Street, Iloilo City proper.

Roy Balsote and Federico Dolar, through their lawyers Cornelio Panes and Joviel Edama, filed the charges against Chief Insp. Musa Amiyong and media barker-turned-confidential agent Niel “Lito” Jimena with the Iloilo City Prosecutors Office Wednesday.

In a copy of the complaint, Amiyong and Jimena were accused of shooting Balsote and Dolar in the evening of August 13 near the flyover spanning General Luna and MH Del Pilar Streets.

Aside from the alleged attempt on their lives, the complainants claimed that Amiyong failed to inform them of their rights when the latter arrested them.

Dolar claimed that Amiyong and Jimena tried to kill them after he tried to get his “fee” for the botched bombing of floodway project at Brgy. Balabago, Jaro.

Dolar said Amiyong ordered him to bomb the project to please a contractor who lost in the bidding.

Amiyong and Jimena had denied the charges saying they arrested Dolar and Balsote for allegedly selling illegal drugs.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

A SUSPECTED robber died inside the LaPaz police station Monday hours after he was arrested for allegedly pilfering an iron bar from a commercial building.

Jose Gallo Verde, 28, of Brgy. Sta. Cruz, Arevalo, Iloilo City collapsed inside the LaPaz PNP detention cell 7pm Monday.

Chief Insp. Uldarico Garbanzos, LaPaz police chief, said Security Guard Gilbert Salondaga of the Cristina Colonnade Building in Huervana Street, LaPaz arrested Verde after he was caught stealing an iron flat bar worth P700.

Garbanzos said Verde resisted the blue guard and fled from the building towards Rizal Street, LaPaz.

Salondaga asked for helped from bystanders in the area who quickly swarmed and mauled Verde.

Members of the LaPaz police who responded to the incident said the bystanders were still manhandling Verde when they arrived.

Garbanzos said the badly beaten Verde was detained 3:30pm then lost consciousness around 7pm.

The police rushed Verde to the West Visayas State University Medical Center but he was declared dead on arrival.

Garbanzos said the jailer on duty and investigator handling Verde’s case offered to take the latter to the hospital but he refused.

“We are still investigating the case to find out if our officers are telling the truth. It’s the first time that an inmate died during my investigation. We sympathize with the family of Verde and we assure that we will get to the bottom of this,” Garbanzos said.

Garbanzos also asked civilians who arrest felons not to maul them “although it is really hard to resist our violent tendencies when we catch criminals.”

Trio shot dead at Shell had criminal cases

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE three fatalities in the gasoline station shootout in Iloilo City proper district Wednesday evening are believed to be paid assassins, according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson in Western Visayas.

Capt. Lowen Gil Marquez, chief of the 32nd Civil Relations Service (CRS) of the AFP, claimed that Samuel Cioco, Gerald Emaas and Hino Balacutan were also involved in other crimes committed in Masbate province.

Members of the Regional Intelligence Office (RIO-6) shot the trio dead at the Santos Shell gas station at the corner of Jalandoni-Delgado Streets, Iloilo City proper past 11pm Wednesday.

Marquez singled out Emaas as a former New People’s Army (NPA) member who later joined the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) in Aroroy, Masbate.

Marquez said Emaas was part of the NPA-National Democratic Front’s central front committee operating in the said island province.

Emaas earned the moniker “Kilabot ng Masbate” because of his exploits during his rebel days, Marquez added.

“He was also engaged in gunrunning and bomb making when he was still with the rebels. Upon returning to the folds of the government, he joined the Cafgu but he recently went absent without official leave. His commanding officers have been looking for him for months now and they were surprised to learn that he was shot dead in Iloilo City,” Marquez said.

The CRS chief said he also received information that Emaas may have worked as bodyguard for a politician in Masbate during his day off from the Cafgu.

“Emaas is also involved in the death of Insp. Harold Gaces of the PNP Special Action Force in Masbate,” Marquez said.

Records of the Masbate Provincial Prosecutors Office (MPPO) showed that Emaas, who also went by the aliases Alfredo Grecio and Wendell, was facing charges for robbery in band, destructive arson, murder and multiple frustrated murder.

Marquez said some of the cases date back to the time when Emaas was still with the NPA.

“All of this information on Emaas is still raw and subject for further verification. It is possible that he and his companions fled to Iloilo because of their numerous cases,” Marquez said.

Marquez said it is also possible that Emaas, Cioco and Balacutan were sent on a mission to Iloilo “but that is still under verification also.”

Cioco was tagged in robbery cases in Masbate, according to police and MPPO records.

Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, Iloilo City Police Office director, said they have received intelligence information that an armed group entered Iloilo City.

IN-LAWS

A statement from the NDF-Bicol issued last March 7, 2008, confirmed Emaas’s membership with the rebel group.

The statement was signed by a certain Gregorio Bañares and posted in the Philippine Revolution Web Central, the official website of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA-NDF.

The statement said Emaas, 24, of Brgy. Balete, Aroroy, Masbate was the husband of Catherine Cioco, 20, of Brgy. Mapili, Balud, Masbate. It also confirmed that Emaas was a former NPA member who later returned to mainstream society.

“When the military learned that he has surfaced, the military forced and threatened Emaas to surrender to 1st Lt. Espallardo of the 22nd Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army. Catherine Cioco is a civilian who was illegally arrested and used as a ‘human shield’ by the PNP-RMG after an encounter with the NPA in Masbate,” the NDF statement said.

Apparently, Catherine could be a sister or relative of Samuel Cioco who was killed with Emaas in the shootout.

Meanwhile, the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) was able to establish that Balacutan was from Masbate and later married a woman from Roxas City.

Identification papers recovered from Balacutan indicates his home address at Brgy. Bliss Cagay, Roxas City.

But Punong Barangay Arturo Aragon of Bliss Cagay said Balacutan did not live in their village.

Senior Supt. Tobias said they are coordinating with the Police Regional Office-5 and Capiz Provincial Police Office to further verify the backgrounds of Cioco and Balacutan.

RIDDLED The bloodied remains of Samuel Sioco, Hino Balacutan and Gerald Emaas after they were peppered with bullets. (FAA photo)

RIDDLED The bloodied remains of Samuel Cioco, Hino Balacutan and Gerald Emaas after they were peppered with bullets. (FAA photo)

Cops pepper suspected robbers with bullets

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

DID members of the Regional Intelligence Office (RIO-6) use reasonable force in neutralizing three suspected robbers Wednesday evening in a gasoline station in Iloilo City proper district?

Were the RIO operatives tailing the trio before the shootout or was it a chance encounter?

These questions beg for answers following the shooting to death of Samuel Cioco, Hino Balacutan and Gerald Emaas at the Santos Shell gas station at the corner of Jalandoni-Delgado Streets, Iloilo City.

Based on identification papers recovered from the slain trio, Cioco was a native of Balud, Masbate while Emaas was from Brgy. Luy-a, Aroroy also in Masbate.

Balacutan was reported as a resident of Brgy. Cagay, Roxas City but Punong Barangay Arturo Aragon said over Bombo Radyo yesterday that the former did not live there.

The incident has several versions particularly on the circumstances that led to the shooting.

Supt. Samuel Nacion, RIO-6 chief, said they were refueling their white Nissan car when they heard a gunshot near the Gusteau coffee shop inside the gas station.

Nacion said he alighted from the car and confronted the trio by introducing himself as a police officer.

But instead of heeding him, Nacion said one of the three persons shot him while another drew something from his pocket.

Upon hearing the second gunfire, the rest of the RIO operatives shot the trio who sought cover in a blue Honda Civic car right in front the coffee shop.

Nacion’s team was positioned in front of Cioco and company while the group of Supt. Sofronio Fusin group fired at the victims from the left portion of the gas station.

When the gunshots ceased, the bloodied Cioco, Emaas and Balacutan were seen crumpled together in front of the Civic car with plate number FEY-368.

A video footage by GMA TV-6 Iloilo showed RIO 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.

But Nacion said they only defended themselves as one of the fatalities was holding a grenade. He said they only acted on suspicion that the trio might rob the gasoline station.

SPO4 Rafael Managuit and SPO1 Johnny Menesis of the Explosive and Ordnance Division said they recovered an M26-A1 fragmentation hand grenade from the scene.

The grenade’s safety lever was already missing, Managuit said.

Reports gathered by the media from other police officers at the scene said the RIO-6 team was tailing Cioco, Emaas and Balacutan after they were linked to a robbery-holdup gang.

Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) director, said RIO-6 was indeed conducting surveillance operations in the vicinity “but the fatalities were not their target.”

“I believe that this was a legitimate shootout because these three persons first shot the RIO-6 operatives. Our officers only defended themselves because of the presence of the grenade. Plus, the scene of incident was a gasoline station and if the grenade detonated, the fuel depot could have exploded also, causing more damage and injuries,” Tobias said.

Tobias said the RIO-6 had expressed intention to help the ICPO’s anti-crime drive by conducting surveillance operations “and this is one of the results of their help.”

So far, the media is dependent on the police as to the details of the incident. Since all the victims were killed, who can give their version of the incident?

OUTGUNNED

The guns and ammunitions found by the Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco) show that Cioco and his group were outnumbered and outgunned.

Coco investigators recovered from the trio a caliber .38 revolver, a caliber .380 pistol and the hand grenade. Also recovered from them were nine caliber .38 live bullets, five caliber .380 live bullets and three spent shells of caliber .380 bullets.

The recoveries from the area where the RIO-6 members were positioned included 39 spent shells of caliber .45 bullets, 12 spent shells of 9mm bullets and 2 live caliber .45 ammunitions.

Based on the initial police investigations, Cioco, Emaas and Balacutan succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds in their head, chest, back, arms and abdomen. The medico legal officer is set to autopsy the remains of three persons.

Based on initial information from Masbate, Emaas was a former communist rebel who later joined the military’s Citizen’s Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu). He was even hailed as an outstanding Cafgu member. In fact, Emaas was identified through the Cafgu ID guard found in his body. A councilor later hired Emaas as a personal bodyguard.

Emaas had pending criminal cases for illegal possession of explosives and homicide.

Senior Supt. Tobias said they will gather more information from Masbate and Roxas to verify the backgrounds of Cioco and Balacutan.

WARNING

Meanwhile, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said the shooting incident should dissuade criminals from operating in the metropolis.

Treñas said new communication facilities donated to the city police office helped the cops subdue the suspected robbers.

The mayor said there have been recent sightings of alleged robbers in the city “but our police officers are prepared to prevent them from committing crimes.”

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

MORE than 20 members of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) are under investigation for absenteeism.

Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, ICPO director, said 26 police officers will be made to explain why they are absent from their patrol assignments and the Monday flag raising ceremonies.

Tobias said they discovered the absentee cops during their surprise inspection and accounting of police personnel deployed to community police assistance centers (Compact) and patrol assignments.

“Some of them are not in their posts. They go missing and leave their assignments behind, creating an impression that there are no cops manning the streets and public places,” Tobias said.

Tobias said Chief Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PNP regional director, ordered the strict accounting of police personnel following complaints of the lack of cops on the streets.

The ICPO chief they will make the 26 cops explain why they were absent from their assigned posts.

“Maybe some of them were sent on errands or encountered emergency situations. If they can justify their absence, they are safe. But if they cannot explain it substantially, then they will be suspended for neglect of duty,” he added.

Meanwhile, Tobias said Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. pledged to help the ICPO in maintaining peace and order in the city.

“There was no concrete commitment but Secretary Gonzalez said they will find solutions to our problems and needs,” Tobias said.

Gonzalez earlier said he has submitted a list of cops alleged involved in illegal drugs and other crimes to the Department of Interior and Local Government.

The justice department chief said he will push for the transfer of erring cops to Mindanao which is torn by renewed conflict between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE intelligence chief of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) and a “confidential agent” are accused of allegedly attempting to kill two persons last month in General Luna Street, Iloilo City proper.

Federico Dolar of Brgy. East Timawa, Molo and Roy Balsote of Brgy. Taal, Molo said Chief Insp. Musa Amiyong tried to liquidate them early morning of August 17 near the flyover along General Luna Street.

Dolar and Balsote also accused media barker-turned-confidential asset Niel “Lito” Jimena as Amiyong’s accomplice.

The duo detailed their accusation in their separate counter-affidavits to the illegal possession of firearms case Amiyong filed against them.

The Daily Guardian has obtained copies of the affidavits which Balsote and Dolar will subscribe before Prosecutor Dominador Borda Jr. Monday.

Lawyer Cornelio Panes said they will sue Amiyong and Jimena for frustrated murder charges before the Iloilo City Prosecutor’s Office next week.

Balsote and Dolar were wounded in the August 17 incident after Amiyong shot them with a caliber .45 pistol.

Amiyong had said he and Jimena were trying to bust the duo for selling illegal drugs. The ICPO officer and Jimena also claimed that the duo first fired at them.

Amiyong accused Balsote and Dolar of illegal possession of firearms after allegedly recovering a caliber .38 revolver from the latter.

But Balsote and Dolar said Amiyong’s claim “is nothing but a big lie.”

“I was never involved in any kind of illegal transaction involving drugs or any of that kind of activity. If there was any transaction that night it was about the ‘business’ which I agreed to handle for Lito Jimena and PCI Amiyong, which according to them, was at the instance of their benefactor who is a bidder-contractor,” Dolar said in his counter-affidavit.

The “business” Dolar was referring to was the grenade-throwing incident at the floodway project site in Brgy. Buhang, Jaro last month. Aside from the “Buhang job”, Dolar said Jimena and Amiyong have been sending him to some errands, which oftentimes were illegal.

“In fact sometime in the month of May 2008, on or about May 10, Lito Jimena proposed that I would assassinate someone for a fee, but I refused,” Dolar said.

BUHANG BOMBING

Dolar said sometime before August 16, Jimena and Amiyong asked him to throw the grenade at the project site upon request of a contractor who lost in the bidding of the Iloilo City Flood Control Project.

However, Amiyong and Jimena did not name the losing contractor.

“For doing this job, the consideration for my services was P10,000 but if the task is a success, they will give me a bonus. It is, however, subject to the condition that there must be an explosion of the hand grenade,” Dolar said.

The plan to bomb the project was finalized August 13 with Jimena giving Dolar P600 for the grenade. But Dolar met difficulty buying a grenade for P600, thus Jimena and Amiyong provided the explosive.

Dolar threw the grenade but it did not explode. The Jaro police later recovered and detonated the explosive.

When Dolar collected his “fee”, Jimena reminded him of the agreement that there must be an explosion “to perfect the job.”

“In order that I will be paid, I purchased a ‘kamara’ and planted it at Brgy. Buhang, Jaro. This time, there was an explosion in order to satisfy the demand of Lito Jimena and PCI Amiyong,” he said.

FLYOVER INCIDENT

On August 16, Dolar sent a text message to Jimena asking for the payment. Jimena replied that Amiyong will pay in check but Dolar said it would be difficult because there are no banks on Saturdays.

“When after some time I tried to ask him of my fee again, he (Jimena) told me that they were still at the Coastal Road. At that time I already sensed that Lito Jimena was trying to avoid me,” Dolar said.

But the instructions never came, prompting Dolar to ask Balsote to drive him to Andok’s Molo branch where Amiyong usually stays.

When they arrived at Caltex Molo, they saw Jimena refueling his motorcycle. Amiyong was talking to unidentified companions in Andoks.

Jimena later told them that the payoff will happen at Shelsyd along Diversion Road in Mandurriao. The duo followed Jimena via the San Rafael Road where the latter stopped on the road shoulder.

“Sensing that something might be wrong, I asked Roy Balsote to continue driving and when we passed by him, he casually told us that he ran out of gas. But I know that it was not true since we spotted him refueling at Caltex-Molo earlier that night,” Dolar said.

Instead of proceeding to Shelsyd, Dolar and Balsote proceeded to Calzada Bar also on Diversion Road where they saw Jimena and Amiyong pass by. The duo decided to go home.

After some time, Jimena sent a text message to Dolar telling him to proceed to Ferj Pharmacy in Molo. Dolar waited in the area but no Jimena showed up.

Then another text message from Jimena told Dolar to proceed to the flyover area near the University of the Philippines-Iloilo City campus.

When they met at the flyover, Jimena told Dolar that he has no money to pay the latter. In the middle of their conversation, a green colored car arrived.

“Then I saw PCI Amiyong shoot us with his firearm but I was able to avoid the bullet by a slim chance, grazing my right arm and piercing my shirt,” Dolar said.

Dolar ran towards Jollibee Molo with Jimena chasing him. Amiyong was chasing Balsote towards the same restaurant.

Dolar tried to elude Jimena by running around tricycles parked around Ted’s Batchoy restaurant but the latter fired two shots.

Jimena missed his target, giving Dolar the chance to run inside the batchoy restaurant and hide inside the comfort room.

Dolar said he tried sending text messages to ask for help but Amiyong was already tearing down the CR’s door, dragged him out and snatched his phone.

Balsote, on the other hand, was wounded by initial shots from Amiyong and ran towards Jollibee. He tried to hide among the plants but the police officer spotted him.

“But to my great surprise and shock, I felt something was pointed at my head while I was hiding behind some plants then I heard Amiyong utter ‘Ari ka man lang di gali nga gago ka! (You’re just hiding here, stupid!)’ while pointing his gun at my head,” Balsote said.

Balsote said parried Amiyong’s gun from his head, then it exploded.

“Amiyong pointed his gun again at my head but when he pulled the trigger his gun jammed. Using his firearm, PCI Amiyong knocked me out of consciousness,” Balsote said.

Amiyong did not respond to text messages asking for his comment and reaction to the duo’s affidavits while Jimena could not be located by this paper.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE opening day of the Crime Prevention Week was marred by a grenade-throwing incident in Lapuz, LaPaz district.

The rear portion of the Nissan Sentra car owned by Margie Gregorios of Brgy. Jalandoni Estate, Lapuz was wrecked when unidentified suspects lobbed a grenade inside their backyard past 4am Monday. Gregorios is a teacher of the Jalandoni Memorial High School.

The explosion also created a big whole on the yard of Gregorios family who were startled by the sudden explosion.

SPO3 Rafael Managuit of the Explosive Ordnance Division, said an M26-A1 fragmentation grenade was used to blow up the car.

This is the second grenade-throwing incident in the city in just two days. Earlier unidentified suspects also blew up the car of Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) intelligence chief Musa Amiyong early morning Sunday at Brgy. Habog-Habog, Molo district.

Managuit said the grenade used to blast Gregorios’s car is similar to the explosive used on Amiyong’s car parked on the roadside at Brgy. Habog-Habog, Molo Sunday.

Chief Insp. Uldarico Garbanzos, LaPaz police chief, said the incident may have something to do with the concubinage case Gregorios filed against her sister’s estranged husband, British national Hurrene. The case is now being heard at the Municipal Circuit Trial Court in Sta. Barbara, Iloilo.

“Mrs. Gregorios is the one pursuing the case against Mr. Hurrene although there are efforts from the part of the British to strike an out-of-court settlement,” Garbanzos said.

Garbanzos added Gregorios’s children also figured in an argument with Hurrene and two unidentified persons at the new Iloilo airport August 28.

The Gregorioses also narrated to the LaPaz police that they saw Hurrene and two persons pass by their house on board a car as if surveying the area.

“Gregorios’s children said they saw Hurrene pointing to their house while passing by,” Garbanzos said.

Garbanzos said they have identified the suspects but refused to elaborate pending further investigation.

Aside from Amiyong and Gregorios incidents, the ICPO has previously recorded two other grenade-throwing incidents in the city the past two months. The first case was the rigging of two hand grenades in a Tatoy’s Manokan cottage supposed to be reserved for businessman Melvin “Boyet” Odicta. The second involved the failed bombing of the tanod outpost at Brgy. Balabago, Jaro three weeks ago. This incident is believed to be related to the alleged fuel pilferage at the depot of Korean firm Hanjin, one of the contractors of the Iloilo Flood Control Project.

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

UNIDENTIFIED suspects bombed the car of Chief Insp. Musa Amiyong, Iloilo City Police Office intelligence section (S2) chief, around 4 am Sunday.

 

According to the Explosive and Ordnance Division, a F26-A fragmentation grenade was used to blow up Amiyong Mistubishi Lancer parked along road at Brgy. Salvacion-West Habog-Habog, Molo district.

 

Investigation by the Scene of the Crime Operatives said the grenade was thrown at the driver’s seat of the car and damaged the seat, windshield and steering wheel.

 

Some of the shrapnel damaged several houses around the blast scene.

 

Amiyong said the motive for the incident is his campaign against illegal drugs.

 

The intelligence chief said he already has an idea of the suspect but he refused to give any detail.

 

Amiyong was recently involved in the shooting to two alleged drug pushers in General Luna Street, Iloilo City.

 

But Michael “Federico” Dolar and Roy Barsote said Amiyong shot them while passing along General Luna Street for no apparent reason.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE regional director of the Bureau of Fire Prevention (BFP-6) has been relieved following the assassination of provincial fire marshal Casiano del Castillo.

 

Reports from the BFP said Fire Supt. Allovel Ferrer, BFP-6 director, will be swap places with Fire Supt. Manuel Badoria of BFP-7 based in Cebu.

 

Earlier, reports said Ferrer has been lobbying for his relief from the BFP-6 because of the possible fall out resulting from del Castillo’s death.

 

The Daily Guardian reported over the weekend that aside from del Castillo, who was shot to death at Land Heights Subdivision in Arevalo, Iloilo City August 22, two other BFP officials are also targets of hired assassins.

 

Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, Iloilo City police director, said they are investigating the alleged plot on the two BFP officials.

 

Allegations of graft and corruption and infighting between BFP officials are some of the motives seen in Del Castillo’s death.

 

Ferrer cannot be reached for comment.

 

Del Castillo was buried Saturday at Forest Lake Memorial Park.

 

The Arevalo police have filed murder charges against suspects Michael Mediana of Maasin, Iloilo and a John Doe.

2 more BFP officials in assassination plot

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

TWO ranking officials of the Bureau of Fire Prevention (BFP-6) are also part of an assassination plot which had already claimed the life of Iloilo provincial fire marshal Casiano del Castillo a week ago.

 

Sources from the BFP and Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) said aside from del Castillo, two BFP officials are also targets of paid assassins.

 

The sources said the “wholesale” assassination plot could be an offshoot of the ongoing rift between BFP officials over allegations of graft and corruption.

 

When pressed for more details, the BFP personnel refused to reveal more information for fear of their lives.

 

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. earlier said squabbles within the BFP could be one of the motives behind del Castillo’s assassination.

 

Gonzalez said he has received information from BFP personnel regarding the dispute between del Castillo and Chief Insp. Lester Gimotea.

 

The dispute has led to the filing of criminal and administrative suits between del Castillo and Gimotea.

ICPO director Bartolome Tobias confirmed the information saying they are looking into the information to preempt another killing. 

 

Senior Supt. Aloveel Ferrer was not available for comment.

 

Del Castillo will be buried today at Forest Lake Memorial park after a necrological service at St. Therese Funeral Chapel in Molo.

 

The Arevalo police have filed cases against three suspects involved in del Castillo’s assassination. The Arevalo police named the suspects as Michael Mediana of Brgy. Burac, Maasin and Nelson Sompio, a former Philippine Army soldier. The third suspect, Jerry Curtom, has surfaced to deny any involvement in the case.

 

Curtom said he was at Brgy. Ayong, Cabatuan, Iloilo when del Castillo was shot Friday last week at Land Heights Subdivision in Arevalo district.

 

Curtom also denied knowing Mediana and Sompio.

 

“I can’t stomach killing another person and I don’t have any criminal record,” he added.

IN BAD SHAPE The Iloilo City Police Office badly needs a major facelift what with the substandard wirings and holes in its sub-offices. (Photos by Tara Yap)
IN BAD SHAPE The Iloilo City Police Office badly needs a major facelift what with the substandard wirings and holes in its sub-offices. (Photos by Tara Yap)

 

PNP inspector laments shabby ICPO offices

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

LAW enforcers of Iloilo City are not safe even in their own backyard.

 

A member of the PNP general inspection team presently doing rounds on PNP field offices in Region 6 raised the hazardous situation of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) compound in General Luna Street, Iloilo City proper district.

 

The inspector, who requested anonymity to speak freely on the matter, is part of the group conducting the Annual General Inspection-Operational Readiness Security Inspection and Test Evaluation (AGI-ORSITE).

 

The AGI-ORSITE team from the PNP national headquarters in Camp Crame tests and evaluates the preparedness and skills of police offices in carrying out their tasks.

 

The inspector, who is also a ranking police official, said the top problem of the ICPO is the structural stability and safety of its own headquarters.

 

“It’s a fire hazard. The floors are creaking and the roofs are leaking. We don’t know what will happen with that place. It might burst in fire because of its substandard structure,” the inspector said referring to the ICPO buildings.

 

The inspector particularly pointed out the Old Constabulary Building (OCB), which houses the Traffic Management and Engineering Unit (TMEU) in the second floor and the Crime Records Section (CRIS) in the ground area, as one wobbly structure in the compound. “When I stepped inside the building, the floor was making crazy noises, they creak, a sign that it is weak already. Repairs might not suffice. What it needs is rehabilitation,” he added.

 

TMEU personnel reached by The Daily Guardian affirmed the observations of the ORSITE inspector saying their office sometimes shake when they move around.

 

TDG photojournalist Tara Yap also noticed twisted electrical wirings which are potential fire hazards, and holes on the wooden floor and walls of the TMEU office. 

 

During heavy rains, ICPO personnel said they catch water leaking from the roof using plastic pails.

 

Aside from the TMEU and CRIS, the compound also houses the Iloilo City proper police station and ICPO administrative sections in the right portion of the OCB.

 

There is also an old house near a star apple tree which serves as sleeping quarters of ICPO personnel and another structure beside the OCB used by the Regional Mobile Group deployed in the city.

 

The Women and Children’s Concern Section, Iloilo City Jail and center for the mentally-challenged were constructed recently.

 

Citing the situation in other urban areas, the AGI-ORSITE inspector said other police offices strictly observe fire safety standards in their respective offices.

Pag hindi nasunod yun, tatamaan ang Bureau of Fire (Protection) at ang police mismo. It would be ironic that we are law enforcers but we cannot keep up with regulations,” he said.

 

Aside from the safety of the police officers occupying the compound, the inspector is also concerned with the comfort of ordinary people transacting business with ICPO offices.

 

“If we want good public service, the environment must be safe and comfortable to our clients,” he said

 

The ORSITE inspector said the sorry state of the ICPO headquarters will not only reflect on the PNP personnel and organization but also on the city government.

 

“In Guimaras, the municipal halls and police stations are in better conditions. We don’t want to criticize the city government or hurt the feelings of our officials. We just want to let everybody know the problem with the offices here because the national headquarters is willing to fund the rehabilitation provided the local government will donate the lot as its share in the project,” he said.

 

The inspector said they will incorporate in next year’s AGI-ORSITE the condition of police offices so they can keep up with safety standards.

DEED OF USUFRUCT

The ICPO compound sits on a lot owned by the Loring family.

 

City Councilor Erwin “Tongtong” Plagata, committee on police matters chair, said the Lorings allowed the ICPO to use the property through a deed of usufruct.

 

Usufruct is the legal right to use and derive profit or benefit from property that belongs to another person, as long as the property is not damaged. In many legal usufruct systems of property, such as the traditional ejido system in Mexico, individuals or groups may only acquire the usufruct of the property, not legal land ownership.

 

“As long as the ICPO uses the lot, they can stay there. It would be better to check if the deed of usufruct allows development in the property such as improvement of buildings,” Plagata said.

 

Former PNP chief Arturo Lomibao had pledged P10 million for the ICPO rehabilitation provided the city government gives the lot to the ICPO.

 

But the deed of usufruct and uncertainty on whether the lot owners are willing to give the property to City Hall stalled the planned rehabilitation.

 

Plagata said the city government can enter into a land swap deal with the ICPO lot owners or the PNP can look for other locations.

 

“The usufruct is the reason why we implement piecemeal repairs at the ICPO. Camp Crame must also look for a possible location if the usufruct disallows major developments. But the city government is also doing its part to resolve this matter,” Plagata said.

 

Plagata also said he does not believe that the OCB cannot be touched because it is considered a heritage building.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

MURDER charges will be filed this week against the alleged gunman of provincial fire marshal Casiano del Castillo.

 

Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) director, said they are refining their case against the triggerman who is believed to be a resident of Iloilo province.

 

Tobias said eyewitnesses identified the suspect through his photographs.

 

The ICPO chief said they also provided security to the witnesses after receiving reports that they are being threatened.

 

“As a matter of procedure, we secure the witnesses to prevent the suspects from harming or influencing them. We will file the case as soon as possible,” Tobias said.

 

Tobias said they continue to check the background of the gunman, particularly his criminal records.

 

Del Castillo was walking towards their home in Land Heights Subdivision in Arevalo district Friday afternoon when two motorcycle-riding suspects shot him with a caliber .45 pistol.

 

Tobias is still cautious to reveal the motive for del Castillo’s murder “but we are continuously liaising with the Bureau of Fire Prevention and the victim’s family.”

 

“There are a lot of angles and until the investigation is finished, we cannot speculate,” he added.

NOT YET ALARMING

Tobias also allayed fears of local leaders and the business community of the reported presence of hired killers in Iloilo City.

 

“I don’t think the situation is alarming but we advise our people to be vigilant against suspicious looking persons. Please report to us any unusual event or strange persons in your communities,” he added.

 

Intelligence operatives of the ICPO are now monitoring the reports and movements of alleged assassins in the city, Tobias said.

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. 

Two motives eyed in del Castillo slay;

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

PERSONAL grudge and his work as Iloilo provincial fire marshal are two of the possible motives seen by the police in the murder of Supt. Casiano del Castillo in Arevalo, Iloilo City Friday last week.

 

This, even as the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) claimed they have identified the triggerman who shot del Castillo five times resulting in his death.

 

Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, ICPO director, said witnesses were able to identify the gunman through his picture.

 

Tobias refused to name the suspect although he said the gunman is a native of Iloilo province.

 

The ICPO chief said they looking into del Castillo’s work at the Bureau of Fire Prevention and previous disputes to determine the motive for his assassination.

 

“We are carefully eliminating other motives and we are now focusing on these two angles,” he added.

 

In several radio interviews, the victim’s wife Rose del Castillo told her about his falling out with a colleague although she did not elaborate.

 

Rose said her husband advised them to be careful after receiving death threats days before he was gunned down.

 

Del Castillo was walking to their home at Landheights Subdivision in Arevalo district when two motorcycle persons waylaid him with a caliber .45 pistol. The victim died at the Saviour International Hospital in Mandurriao district.

 

The victim recently exposed several anomalies at the BFP, particularly missing high-powered firearms, repair of fire trucks sans competitive bidding and questionable recruitment of firefighters.

 

Del Castillo traced the alleged anomalies to his predecessor, former provincial fire marshal Edga Gimotea, who also happens to be his wedding godfather.

 

In the middle of exposé, del Castillo criticized Gimotea for allegedly maintaining a lending business inside the BFP regional office in Aduana Street, Iloilo City proper.

 

The word war prompted Gimotea to file perjury cases against del Castillo.

 

Before he was shot last week, del Castillo went to the Iloilo Hall of Justice to file his counter affidavit to the perjury case.

 

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. said he also received last August 19 a letter from Gimotea detailing his dispute with del Castillo.

 

Gonzalez said he is willing to order the National Bureau of Investigation to probe del Castillo’s death if the latter’s family seeks his help.

 

The Bureau of Fire Prevention has condemned del Castillo’s murder.

 

Fire Sr. Inspector Bartolome Billaran said they were shocked with the incident even as they assured to help their fallen colleague’s family.

HIRED KILLERS

Tobias said it is possible that the suspects in del Castillo’s death are hired killers.

 

This piece of information jived with the investigation of the Jaro police that paid assassins gunned down Edgar Pedrajas a week ago. Pedrajas is a relative of a suspected drug lord allegedly operating in Iloilo City.

 

According to the Jaro police, the gunmen stayed and planned the killing in a house in Iloilo City.

 

Tobias said they also received reports of the purported team of assassins in Iloilo City although he allayed fears raised on their presence and the series of killings.

 

The AFP also released reports that sparrow hit men of the New People’s Army were spotted in Arevalo plaza, not far from the area where del Castillo was killed.

 

Tobias said the whole ICPO force is on alert against any incursions by the assassins spotted in the city.

 

Since he assumed the ICPO helm, Tobias was confronted by a series of killings including the case of American Daniel John Chabra, Pedrajas and del Castillo.

Chief Insp. Musa Amiyong

Chief Insp. Musa Amiyong

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE intelligence section (S2) chief of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) will be investigated for his role in the shooting of two persons in General Luna Street, Iloilo City early morning Sunday.

Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, ICPO director, said the investigation on Chief Insp. Musa Amiyong will determine whether or not Amiyong was involved in the shooting of Federico Dolar and Roy Barsote around 2am Sunday near the Infante flyover.

According to the Iloilo City Police Station 1 blotter reports, Amiyong said he and a certain Lito were trying to nab Dolar and Barsote in a buy-bust operation but the duo shot him while he was approaching.

This certain Lito turned out to be Lito Jimena, a former media barker for politicians during elections.

Amiyong said it was Jimena who developed the operation against Dolar and Barsote since last week.

A running gun battle ensued which wounded Barsote in his back while Dolar was unscathed.

Dolar, who is now detained at the ICPS-1 jail, said they were passing by the flyover area when Amiyong and Lito shot them with a caliber .45 pistol.

Barsote was brought to the Iloilo Doctors Hospital where he is fighting for his life, the bullet was still lodged in his body as of presstime.

ICPS-1 investigators recovered from the scene of the incident a caliber .38 revolver with two spent shells and four live ammunitions and two spent shells of caliber .45 bullets.

No illegal drugs and marked money, however, were found in the possession of Dolar and Barsote.

Yesterday, radio reports came out accusing Dolar and Barsote as part of a syndicate that pilfers fuel from the heavy equipment of Hanjin Co., contractor of the ongoing Iloilo Flood Control Project.

The reports also implicated Amiyong to the alleged pilferage of Hanjin equipment based in Brgy. Balabago, Jaro.

Dolar and Barsote were also tagged in a grenade throwing incident at the tanod (auxiliary police) detachment of Brgy. Balabago, which is believed to be related to the pilferage controversy.

Tobias said he has knowledge of the allegations against Amiyong “that is why we will initiate an investigation on the matter.”

“These are very sensitive information involving one of our officers and we want to give him the chance to explain his side. We can’t conclude anything as of now because all these are still unconfirmed reports,” Tobias said.

If Amiyong is found to be involved in the alleged rackets, Tobias said they will be compelled to relieve the S2 chief pending the administrative investigation against him.

Tobias said their investigation is aimed at gathering facts surrounding the Sunday shootout and the allegations against Amiyong.

“We can then proceed with the administrative investigation on Amiyong if the facts merit so,” he added.

Chief Insp. Conrado Carganillo, ICPS-1 chief, said they are still waiting for Amiyong to undergo paraffin test by the PNP Crime Laboratory.

Legit buy-bust

Amiyong said their operation against Dolar and Barsote was legitimate although he refused to answer accusations of pilferage against him.

Amiyong said Dolar is included in the watch list of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

TDG tried to verify with PDEA officials if Dolar was indeed in its list of suspected drug pushers but their records were not available since it yesterday was a holiday.

“Everything that happened last Sunday and the other allegations against me I will answer in my affidavit which I will provide the media soon,” Amiyong said.

Jimena said over dySI-Super Radyo that the allegations tagging him in the pilferage of Hanjin equipment are “diversionary tactics.”

“That was a legitimate operation on our part,” Jimena said.

Smallville with its numerous bars and hotels give much needed break to weary Ilonggo souls. But allegations of an illegal drug ring operating within the complex persist and have reached the attention of authorities. (Photo by Tara Yap)

Smallville with its numerous bars and hotels give much needed break to weary Ilonggo souls. But allegations of an illegal drug ring operating within the complex persist and have reached the attention of authorities. (Photo by Tara Yap)

 

Rich strangers run illicit trade

 

By Francis Allan L. Angelo and Jeehan Fernandez

 

MONEYED outsiders are allegedly peddling high-end drugs in a popular leisure complex of Iloilo City, according to a source involved in the anti-illegal drugs campaign.

Information received by The Daily Guardian from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (Pdea) officer said drug pushers operating in Smallville business and leisure complex at Brgy. San Rafael, Mandurriao district are not from Iloilo.

The source, who sought anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the matter, said the pushers came from another province in Western Visayas and belong to affluent families.

This information somehow confirmed the City Peace and Order Council (CPOC) report that Smallville is gradually becoming the illegal drugs hot spot of the city.

“We were surprised to discover that the persons we were looking are not the ordinary street pushers that we usually chase and arrest. They belong to classes A and B. These guys are very rich and can afford to stay in posh hotels in the city when they ply their stuff in Iloilo. And their clients are also from the upper class,” the source said.

The informant said rich drug users will only buy from their peers “because they cannot trust ordinary street pushers wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts.”

During the CPOC meeting the other day, authorities from the PNP and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) confirmed that the illegal drug trade is thriving in Smallville.

Based on the CPOC report, shabu is sold in the popular leisure strip at P10,000 to P12,000 per gram while a gram of marijuana costs P30 or P15,000 per kilo.

The designer drug Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) or commonly known as “Ecstasy” can be bought at P1,800 a tablet.

Ecstasy is considered the most popular “sex trip” drug among teenagers and young professionals.

Also known as “X-TC”, “Adam”, “Eden Tablet”, yuppie drug and hug drug, Ecstasy was first developed as an appetite suppressant in 1914 by the German company, Merck. In the 1970’s, US therapists led by biochemist Alexander Shulgin used the drug to help patients explore their feelings.

The TDG source affirmed the CPOC report saying Ecstasy is the most in-demand stuff in Smallville.

“We are now profiling the identities of these pushers. They have no records here and even in their place of origin reason why had difficulties spotting them. We are now focusing on the upper level of the illegal drug trade, not just the street pushers,” the source added.

Aside from illegal drugs, Smallville has allegedly become a pick up point for prostitutes in the city.

“Some female drug users need money to sustain their addiction and they resort to prostitution to satisfy their cravings,” the source added.  

Smallville is home to numerous bars and hotels that have become “hot night spots” in the city. Most of the patrons who frequent the area are teenagers and young professionals.

The leisure strip is usually active on weekends and holidays although two to three establishments are considered the most popular.

Smallville is located near the suspected drug havens at Brgys. Bakhaw and Taft North also in Mandurriao district.

Aside from the illegal drug trade, the leisure park’s image has been tarnished by shooting and mauling incidents between rival groups and drunken individuals. The commotions usually begin between 11pm to 2am when the parties are just starting to heat up.

SPECIAL TASK FORCE

Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) OIC-director, said they have been receiving reports on the thriving illegal drug trade at Smallville “but we are continuously verifying such information.”

“As regards the volume, extent and modus operandi of the syndicate, we are still digging into that. Our intelligence operatives are constantly verifying the reports. We cannot yet say if the place is indeed a haven of illegal drugs because we have yet to ascertain its extent,” Tobias said.

Tobias said they are coordinating with the PDEA and the Police Regional Office (PRO-6) in verifying the report and identifying the source and pushers who bring illegal drugs in Smallville.

When asked about the possibility of outsiders running the illicit trade at Smallville, Tobias said such scenario is always possible given its popularity.

The ICPO will form its own special anti-illegal drugs task force to deal with the drug menace, Tobias said.

“This problem cannot be solved by the usual police works. Special operations are needed to root out the problem. The Mandurriao police has been vigorously campaigning against illegal drugs in the area but they will need more help,” he added. 

Tobias said Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Trenas is willing to help the task force in terms of logistics and finances.

VILLAGE HEADS RILE

But Punong Barangay Azucena Tabuyoc of San Rafael, Mandurriao denied the existence of the illegal drug trade at Smallville which is included in their village.

Tabuyoc said she and barangay tanods have been helping the police monitor the peace and order in the area.

“We stay up until 1 am to watch over the place. So far, we have not noticed anything unusual in the place,” Tabuyoc said.

Tabuyoc said the CPOC should have first verified the supposed illegal drug ring in Smallville before releasing the information to the public. She said they were insulted by the information “because it will reflect on our community and residents.”

“Not one of the CPOC members or the police came here to verify the information. Nor were we invited to the meeting,” she added.

The TDG source said the information on the Smallville drug ring was raised by one of the paticipants in the meeting which the PNP and the PDEA also confirmed.

“The information was relayed to the council after the presentation of the illegal drugs scenario by the PDEA,” the source added.

Tabuyoc said she will convene the barangay council to consolidate their stand on the issue and the possible measures they will take.

Tobias said they will coordinate with barangay officials in verifying the information “since they are our partners in this campaign.”

“We will also meet with owners of establishments inside Smallville to discuss possible security measures against the proliferation of illegal drugs there. We would need the cooperation of the community on this and the public must be vigilant also,” Tobias said.

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