Though the Cebu provincial police was right in brushing aside allegations that the arrest of Lagtang Barangay Chairman Mark Ferdinand Bas was politically motivated, it was presumptuous of Senior Supt. Eric Noble, Cebu provincial police chief, to think that those who opposed Bas’ arrest were also involved in illegal drugs.
“For me, if one is angry about it, then maybe that person is also involved in drugs, don’t you think? After all, Bas is already a high-value target,” Noble said in Tagalog.
Noble was reacting to reports that Supt. Emerson Dante, Talisay City police chief, admitted that some Talisay City officials called him up to stop him from ordering the arrest of Bas.
Interestingly, Bas’ father, Talisay City Councilor Arturo Bas, chairs Talisay City’s Peace and Order Council, and he reportedly wasn’t informed about the operation against his son who allegedly has ties to self-confessed drug lord Franz Saballones.
Still, Noble’s statement was a bit sweeping, considering that those officials who opposed Bas’ arrest may have done so for purely political reasons — that is, political support and the arrest may jeopardize said support either to the administration or opposition party.
On the other side of the fence, the elder Bas simply cannot accuse Noble or the provincial police of partisan political motives for arresting his son without any proof whatsoever that would disprove the barangay chairman’s alleged drug links.
Though a raid in the younger Bas’ home yielded one gun, a grenade and ammunition but no drugs, Camp Crame’s intelligence reports stated that the barangay chairman is allegedly a level-two drug pusher who can sell 200 to 500 grams of drugs worth P2 million to P5 million weekly.
Instead of taking on Noble, Councilor Bas should use his post to question Camp Crame directly. As it is, the burden of proof lies squarely on his son who will have to face the music.
If anything, the Duterte administration’s intensified war against illegal drugs has placed local officials on the defensive since they are now being called into account for what they have done or are doing in supporting the said war.
Councilor Bas can use as reference the suspension of Barangay Ermita Chairman Felicisimo Rupinta and his fellow officials by the Ombudsman-Visayas based on the complaint of the regional Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA-7) that they failed to support their raid in a shabu tiangge (flea market) last December.
Barangay Chairman Bas’ arrest should also serve to reinforce President Rodrigo Duterte’s warning to officials tied to drugs — from the highest echelons of national government bureaucracy to the grassroots level — to stop completely lest they face a worse fate.