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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE chief of police of Mandurriao, Iloilo City was relieved from his post following the probe on allegations that he indiscriminately fired his gun inside a popular restaurant bar in Smallville complex the other day.

S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal, Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) director, ordered the relief of C/Insp. Salvador Dagoon as Mandurriao PNP station commander effective Wednesday afternoon.

Replacing Dagoon is C/Insp. Elizer Baclagon who was previously assigned at the ICPO headquarters.

Dagoon was required to report to the ICPO headquarters pending the investigation conducted by the Regional Internal Affairs Service (RIAS) on his alleged actuations inside MO2 Bar and Restaurant early Wednesday morning.

The MO2 management complained that Dagoon fired his gun inside the establishment after refusing to be frisked by security guards.

Dagoon said he went to MO2 to validate reports that security personnel and waiters maul consumers who don’t foot their bills or involved in melees inside the bar.

Dagoon said he was piqued by the arrogant behavior of the security guard who tried to frisk him. He admitted that he was drunk when he entered the MO2 premises.

Mongcal said the relief is not a penalty on Dagoon but is only meant to ensure a smooth and fair investigation on the incident.

The RIAS initiated a motu propio (on its own initiative) investigation on the incident because it involved indiscriminate firing.

PO3 Vicente Silla of RIAS, who is spearheading the initial investigation, said they can subject Dagoon to summary hearing if they find probable cause to file administrative charges against him.

Mongcal also ordered an investigation on the incident.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE top police officer in Mandurriao district, Iloilo City is under investigation for allegedly firing his gun inside a bar in Smallville complex early morning Wednesday.

C/Insp. Salvador Dagoon is the subject of a motu propio investigation by the Regional Internal Affairs Service (RIAS) spearheaded by PO3 Vicente Silla.

The probe was triggered by an altercation between Dagoon and security personnel and staff of MO2 Bar and Restaurant around 1am Wednesday.

According to the blotter report filed by the MO2 personnel, Dagoon, who was wearing civilian clothes, resisted when a security guard tried to frisk him as part of their security measure.

After some discussion, Dagoon entered the bar and fired his gun twice. He then proceeded to the MO2 Ice disco club and ordered some drinks.

The MO2 personnel said Dagoon ordered his subordinates to take security guard Fredinel Lobaton into custody for lack of appropriate licenses.

Lobaton, who was released yesterday, works for the security agency owned by the son of C/Supt. Isagani Cuevas, PNP regional director.

Dagoon said he resisted the security guard who tried to frisk him because of the guard’s arrogant approach.

“The guard was arrogant when he approached me. They even mobbed me. We have been orienting them to be courteous in dealing with their customers,” he said.

Dagoon said he went to MO2 to conduct a covert investigation on allegations that the bar’s security personnel and staff maul customers who don’t pay their bills or involved in rumbles.

He said he did not introduce himself to the security guards to avoid blowing his cover.   

“We have been receiving a lot of reports regarding the actuations of the security guards and waiters. Some of their victims are professionals who don’t deserve to be maltreated. My presence was part of my work as a police officer,” Dagoon added.

Dagoon said he already had several drinks before he entered MO2.

PO3 Silla said they are conducting the investigation sans a formal complaint because one of the charges against Dagoon is indiscriminate firing of his issued firearm.

S/Supt. Melvin Mongcal advised Dagoon to face the investigation even as he assured that the probe will be fair to all parties involved.

Mongcal also cautioned police officers to maintain decorum and proper behavior whether they are on or off duty.

“Disorderly acts are prohibited by existing regulations. Any violation will be subject to administrative charges,” he added.

A LAWYER of the Iloilo Provincial Legal Office will stand as witness in the criminal complaint that the executive editor of The Daily Guardian will file against Tito Lopez, scion of the famous Lopez clan of Iloilo.

 

Atty. Joseph Anthony Lutero agreed to back the allegations of TDG executive editor Francis Allan Angelo that Lopez threatened to kill them inside Flow Bar and Restaurant in Smallville complex, Mandurriao, Iloilo City.

 

Angelo has decided to file charges of grave threats against Lopez upon advice of his legal counsel.

 

In an interview with Novie Guazo over RMN-Iloilo Monday evening, Lutero confirmed Lopez’s threatening actuations inside Flow in the evening of October 31, 2008.

 

Lutero said Lopez also threatened to kill him and his family for no apparent reason. He added that he is willing to execute an affidavit to strengthen Angelo’s case.

 

The incident happened while Angelo and Lutero were inside Flow past 11pm of October 31.

 

Angelo claimed they were standing by a table near Lopez when the latter approached the former and threatened to kill him.

 

The Lopez scion even dared Angelo to go out the popular night spot and slapped him on the waist.

THE management of The Daily Guardian is bent on suing Tito Lopez for threatening the paper’s executive editor inside a popular nightspot at Smallville area Friday last week.

 

TDG executive editor Francis Allan L. Angelo said he will discuss possible legal moves against Lopez with TDG publisher Lemuel Fernandez and the paper’s legal counsels.

 

Fernandez said Lopez’s actions constitute grave threat against Angelo.

 

Angelo accused Lopez of threatening to kill him inside Flow Resto-Bar at Smallville complex past 11 pm Friday.

 

Lopez even slapped Angelo’s waist during the incident which also involved lawyer Jojo Lutero.

 

Angelo said he can forgive Lopez for his actions “but that will not prejudice whatever legal remedy we will avail.”

 

“This is not about pecuniary interests or popularity but it is about redress of grievance because what Tito Lopez caused a lot of stress. I was not able to visit the grave of my father, who died last year, during All Souls and All Saints Days because of what Mr. Lopez did,” Angelo said.

 

Angelo said his friends and family members have been worried upon learning the incident.

 

“If even if I ask for damages, I will settle for P1 because I’m not after Lopez’s money. The distress he caused me cannot be remunerated. And if I win the P1 damage suit, I will gladly donate the money to Lopez Foundation or Bantay Bata 163,” Angelo said.

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.

PDEA regional chief Roybel Sanchez

PDEA regional chief Roybel Sanchez

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

HOW do you infiltrate a group of affluent drug pushers and users frequenting a popular leisure strip in Iloilo City? 

For more than a year, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA-6) has been trying to penetrate the illegal drugs ring operating in Smallvile business and leisure park in Mandurriao district.

Supt. Roybel Sanchez, PDEA-6 regional director, said they have confirmed the selling of illegal drugs, particularly marijuana and Ecstasy, at Smallville after two successful test buys.

Sanchez said they tried to go deeper into the syndicate’s operations “but their modus operandi defied our usual approaches.”

“They only deal on the basis of familiarity. If they don’t know you, they will not even talk to you. And they scrutinize if you have the capability to buy or a rich guy,” Sanchez said.

Another problem that hindered PDEA from busting the illegal drug ring is the presence of spotters who monitor intelligence officers.

Sanchez said Smallville pushers maintain a big network of waiters, security guards and employees who help smoke out authorities conducting surveillance operations.

“Unlike our usual operations where we can use just any asset, the case of Smallville needs someone who is familiar to these suspects and a young professional. But who among our professionals is willing to work for us?” Sanchez added.

The PDEA confirmed to the City Peace and Order Council the other day that illegal drugs is changing hands inside Smallville.

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) commonly known as “Ecstasy” can be bought at P1,800 a tablet.

Smallville is home to numerous bars and hotels that have become “hot night spots” in the city. The area is frequented by 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 suspected drug havens in Brgys. Bakhaw and Taft North also in Mandurriao district.

Sanchez said the sale usually happens inside the establishments or in cars parked in dark portions of the strip.

The PDEA chief said they released the information on the Smallville drug ring “para mabulabog sila (to smoke them out).”

“We can consider the problem as a bit rampant but we continue to monitor and try to bust them,” he added.

Another major problem the anti-illegal drugs agency encountered is that syndicates are also trying to identify or profile their personnel and assets.

“We have new personnel here but we are not exposing them too much in the field because the other side is also trying to profile us. They even have blown up pictures of some PDEA personnel,” Sanchez averred.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas will meet with the management of Smallville establishments today to discuss the problem and hammer out possible solutions.

Treñas said admitting the presence of the drug ring will help the city government and law enforcement units address the menace before it worsens.

“I don’t think this will setback the growth of that area,” Treñas said. 

The Iloilo Hotels Restaurants and Resorts Association headed by Robert Ferrer also assured that their members are doing their share to prevent illegal drugs from penetrating into their businesses.

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.

July 2020
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