DRUG PRO­TEC­TORS?

Duterte sacks Ba­colod top cop, 4 oth­ers; links lo­cal politi­cian to il­le­gal drug trade

Sun Star Bacolod - - Front Page - BY GLAZYL Y. MASCULINO

FIVE po­lice­men of Ba­colod City, in­clud­ing its po­lice chief, were re­lieved from their posts af­ter Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte linked them, and a politi­cian to il­le­gal drugs.

Duterte was in Ba­colod Satur­day night to at­tend the birth­day of Leo Rey Yan­son, Val­lacar Tran­sit In­cor­po­rated (VTI) pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, at the L’ Fisher Hotel. It was his first visit to the city this year.

Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent John Bu­lala­cao, direc­tor of Po­lice Re­gional Of­fice (Pro)west­ern Visayas, said the Pres­i­dent, dur­ing his speech, fired Senior Su­per­in­ten­dent Francisco Ebreo, act­ing BCPO direc­tor, “for al­legedly en­abling the pro­lif­er­a­tion of il­le­gal drugs in Ba­colod City, and pro­tect­ing com­mis­sioned and non-com­mis­sioned of­fi­cers of BCPO who are al­legedly in­volved in il­le­gal drugs.”

Bu­lala­cao and Ebreo were out­side the hotel se­cur­ing the area when Duterte made the rev­e­la­tion.

Af­ter the Pres­i­dent’s speech, Bu­lala­cao val­i­dated the names men­tioned by Duterte and im­me­di­ately or­dered their re­lief so it will not af­fect their in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“I be­lieved him. Be­ing the pres­i­dent, he has many sources of in­for­ma­tion and he has a ba­sis for that,” Bu­lala­cao said.

The four other al­leged narco-cops named by Duterte were Su­per­in­ten­dent Ritchie Yatar, head of the City Mo­bile Force Com­pany; Su­per­in­ten­dent Allan Ma­ca­pa­gal, deputy city direc­tor for ad­min­is­tra­tion; Su­per­in­ten­dent Nas­rud­din Tayuan of BCPO; and Senior In­spec­tor Vic­tor Paulino, for­mer head of Po­lice Sta­tion 3 and Mo­bile Pa­trol Group.

Tayuan as head of the In­tel­li­gence Unit of the BCPO was trans­ferred to PRO-12 in Gen­eral San­tos City in May 2018 upon the or­der of the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice (PNP) in Camp Crame while Ma­ca­pa­gal was just re­as­signed to BCPO in De­cem­ber 2018 from PRO-6 in Iloilo City.

Bu­lala­cao said the five po­lice­men were trans­ferred to the Re­gional Per­son­nel Hold­ing and Ac­count­ing Unit (RPHAU) in Iloilo City, pend­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

They will re­port to Malacañang to­day, Jan­uary 14, ex­cept for Tayuan who is no longer un­der the su­per­vi­sion of PRO-6, to meet the Pres­i­dent at 2 p.m.

All the re­gional di­rec­tors, along with the Armed Forces of the Philip­pines (AFP), will also have a com­mand con­fer­ence with the Pres­i­dent at the said venue, Bu­lala­cao said.

With Ebreo’s im­me­di­ate re­lief, Senior Su­per­in­ten­dent Henry Biñas, chief of the Re­gional Per­son­nel and Hu­man Re­source Doc­trine Devel­op­ment Divi­sion (RPHRDD), will as­sume as the of­fi­cer-in­charge of the BCPO.

Biñas was the for­mer

pro­vin­cial direc­tor of Ne­gros Ori­en­tal Po­lice Pro­vin­cial Of­fice (Norppo) and head of the Iloilo City Po­lice Of­fice (ICPO). Bu­lala­cao told the me­dia he was sur­prised that Ebreo was im­pli­cated in il­le­gal drugs. “Some­how, I was sad and dis­ap­pointed. All the while, I thought he’s per­form­ing and I ad­mire a mem­ber of the re­gional head­quar­ters if he im­ple­ments my pro­grams thor­oughly,” Bu­lala­cao said. Bu­lala­cao said Ebreo has been do­ing his part as the act­ing BCPO direc­tor for more than a year, as he cited the dis­ci­pline he raised and im­posed to the of­fi­cers and mem­bers of the city po­lice force dur­ing his stint. “But ev­ery­thing was brought down. Nanghi­hi­nayang ako and nalu­lungkot para sa kanya,” he added. He went to the BCPO head­quar­ters and con­fronted Ebreo about the prob­a­ble rea­son for his im­pli­ca­tion in the il­le­gal drugs. Bu­lala­cao said Ebreo told him he has some­thing in his mind but chose to keep it to him­self be­cause he also wanted to ver­ify the re­port. “Pero nai­intindi­han ko siya, malungkot siya. He’s not ex­pect­ing na ga­nun ang mangya­yari sa kanya dito sa Ba­colod” (But I un­der­stand him. He’s sad. He’s not ex­pect­ing that it will hap­pen to him here in Ba­colod), he added. When asked for re­ac­tion, Ebreo re­fused to com­ment on the mat­ter as of this time. In a re­ply to Sun­star Ba­colod, he said: “Sorry not now, in due time, I will. The truth will pre­vail.” Dur­ing Ebreo’s stint, only one BCPO per­son­nel as­signed in a po­lice sta­tion was tested pos­i­tive for il­le­gal drug use and was im­me­di­ately moved to RPHAU, but the said po­lice of­fi­cer went on ab­sent with­out of­fi­cial leave sta­tus af­ter his re­lief. Also, un­der Ebreo’s lead­er­ship, the BCPO has seized an es­ti­mated to­tal of P42.222 mil­lion worth of il­le­gal drugs from Jan­uary 1 to De­cem­ber 31, 2018. As this de­vel­oped, Bu­lala­cao said the narco-cops, ex­cept for Ebreo, were al­ready in­ves­ti­gated since there were re­ports about their al­leged en­gage­ment in the il­le­gal drug trade even be­fore he was as­signed as re­gional direc­tor in West­ern Visayas. But at present, the four po­lice of­fi­cers have no il­le­gal drug ac­tiv­i­ties based on the in­tel­li­gence re­ports, he added. He said, “in fact, I pre­vi­ously sub­jected Ma­ca­pa­gal to cadet train­ing, to­gether with some mem­bers of the BCPO at the re­gional head­quar­ters.” Also, though Paulino was among the BCPO per­son­nel who led the neu­tral­iza­tion of West­ern Visayas drug lord Ramy Poja in Barangay Banago in May 2018, there were still re­ports about his al­leged in­volve­ment in il­le­gal drugs, he added. He, how­ever, said the four po­lice of­fi­cers were not charged be­cause they have not gath­ered enough ev­i­dence against them. But he as­sured they will be thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gated be­cause of the state­ment of the Pres­i­dent. Mean­while, Bu­lala­cao said it is ex­pected from the men and women of the BCPO to feel low morale since their head was im­pli­cated in il­le­gal drugs. But he ad­vised them it should not pre­vail be­cause it may af­fect their per­for­mance and ser­vice to the pub­lic. He stressed that the rev­e­la­tions made by the pres­i­dent should in­stead serve as a warn­ing to all PNP mem­bers in the re­gion. “Maaar­ing ngayon, bukas, makalawa, hindi kayo mahuli or ma­bang­git na in­volve sa il­le­gal drugs. But later on, your name will come out. Walang li­him na hindi nabubun­yag,” he said. Mean­while, Bu­lala­cao also con­firmed to the me­dia that the Pres­i­dent men­tioned Ba­colod City Coun­cilor Ri­cardo “Cano” Tan to be al­legedly in­volved in drugs. Duterte iden­ti­fied him as a high-value tar­get ranked fourth in the watch­list. He said they will make a case build-up against Tan so they can file a case if proven that he com­mit­ted an of­fense. Tan has yet to is­sue a state­ment about the al­leged drug links. In De­cem­ber 2018, Tan and his wife were am­bushed by three uniden­ti­fied armed men. The as­sailants re­leased rapid gun­fire to the of­fi­cial’s ve­hi­cle, which hit the wind­shield. Both vic­tims man­aged to sur­vive but were in­jured af­ter they sus­tained abra­sions from the bro­ken glass win­dow of the car. As to the progress of the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­gard­ing the am­bush in­ci­dent, the PRO6 top cop said they are still eye­ing four an­gles as the mo­tive of the in­ci­dent - pol­i­tics, busi­ness, per­sonal, and il­le­gal drugs. But un­til now, the po­lice have yet to find any ev­i­dence that can es­tab­lish the real mo­tive of the in­ci­dent, he said. They also do not have the iden­ti­ties of the per­pe­tra­tors yet. Bu­lala­cao pre­vi­ously or­dered Ebreo to solve the case and even told newly-in­stalled of­fi­cer-in-charge of Ne­gros Oc­ci­den­tal Po­lice Pro­vin­cial Of­fice (Nocppo), Senior Su­per­in­ten­dent Romeo Baleros, to help the case be­cause it also hap­pened within the province. When sought for re­ac­tion, Ba­colod City Vice Mayor El Cid Fa­mil­iaran said Duterte’s pro­nounce­ment was a shock­ing rev­e­la­tion. “We did not ex­pect it,” he said. But he is hop­ing that Tan and his fam­ily can de­fend it. “Let’s leave it to the law en­force­ment agen­cies,” he added. The vice mayor said Tan has yet to at­tend a ses­sion of the city coun­cil af­ter the at­tempt on his life. He can be ab­sent or he can file a leave if he still can­not at­tend the ses­sion, Fa­mil­iaran added. He also ex­pressed sur­prise when Ebreo and four other po­lice­men were men­tioned by the pres­i­dent. “Indi na la­hog-la­hog (It’s not a joke). The in­for­ma­tion he re­ceived came from his sources,” Fa­mil­iaran said. When asked for an as­sess­ment on Ebreo’s per­for­mance, Fa­mil­iaran cited there was a re­duc­tion on crimes against per­sons and prop­er­ties dur­ing his lead­er­ship. Po­lice­men were also vis­i­ble on the streets and there’s al­ways ap­pre­hen­sion against ille- gal drugs, with a daily re­cov­ery of not less than P50,000 worth of nar­cotics, he added. He is hop­ing that these po­lice­men can de­fend them­selves. For his part, Ba­colod City Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Greg Gasa­tay re­fused to com­ment on the mat­ter, which he con­sid­ered to be sen­si­tive. Mean­while, Bu­lala­cao also said Duterte men­tioned two more per­sons who were re­port­edly into the il­le­gal drug trade in the province. One was a known drug pusher and the other was a for­mer po­lice­man, both from La Car­lota City. How­ever, no spe­cific names were men­tioned. Mean­while, the pres­i­dent passed by Barangay 16 be­fore he left Ba­colod past mid­night over the week­end. Barangay 16 was for­merly headed by Nel­son Li­gaya Jr., who was killed by mo­tor­cy­clerid­ing as­sailants in De­cem­ber 2018. Duterte, dur­ing his visit in Ba­colod in Oc­to­ber last year for the Masskara Fes­ti­val, men­tioned that there was a barangay of­fi­cial who was al­legedly in­volved in il­le­gal drugs. The BCPO and the Philip­pine Drug En­force­ment Agency (PDEA)-6 ear­lier dis­missed the re­ports that Li­gaya was the one al­luded to by the Pres­i­dent since he’s not part of the drugs watch­list in the re­gion.*

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