A barangay captain, who has been listed as a high-value target (HVT) on the police drug watchlist, along with two others, were killed in an alleged shootout with policemen while nine others were arrested during a search operation in Bgy. Balat Atis, Antonio, Quezon, early yesterday.
Meanwhile, 12 drug suspects were arrested in a separate anti-illegal drug operrations in Tarlac City and Bataan.
Quezon police director Senior Supt. Antonio Yarra identified the slain suspects as Barangay Captain Pedro Atienza, of Balat Atis, Donald Uri and Mandy Hiwatig, who were all considered by the police as HVT.
Yarra said those arrested were Manolito Pentiño, Edilberto Hiwatig, Adrian Lopez, Michael Wagan, Ryan Vidal, Albert Vislenio, Hanz Guce, Elpidio Hernandez and Allan Lopez, all residents of said village.
Armed with search warrants issued by San Pablo City Regional Trial Court Branches 29-32 Judge Agripino Morga, Yarra said joint elements of Quezon Intelligence Branch, Special Action Force, Regional Public Safety Company and Quezon Provincial Public Safety Company conducted simultaneous search operations called “One-Time, Big-Time” on several houses in the said village at 6 a.m.
But instead of giving up to the authorities, Yarra said, the three armed suspects opened fire, prompting the lawmen to retaliate, resulting in their death.
He said the raiding teams recovered three hand guns and undetermined amount of suspected shabu.
The arrested suspects were detained at the municipal jail while the bodies of the three slain suspects were being subjected to autopsy.
Quezon is one of the provinces where the police’s intensified campaign against prohibited drugs is being done.
In Tarlac City, provincial police director Senior Supt. Westrimundo Obinque identified one of the suspects as Roger Gatchalian, 31, who was caught in a buy-bust operation in Bgy. San Nicolas last October 27.
Obinque identified the other suspects, who were arrested last Oct. 28 in Bgy. San Pablo, as Leonardie Salta, 40, Rommel Maninang, 46, Justhon Dean Aqui, 31, and Marven Cablang, 22.
It was learned from Supt. Bayani Razalan, city police chief, that Salta had previously surrendered under the Philippine National Police’s “Oplan Tokhang” but continued selling shabu.
Gatchalian, on the other hand, was not on the list of drug surrenderees. Like Razalan, he was arrested after selling shabu to a poseur-buyer.
The other three suspects were arrested after they were caught in a pot session.
Confiscated from the suspects were the marked money used in the operations and small plastic sachet of shabu.
In Bataan, seven suspected drug pushers, including two women, were arrested in separate buy-bust operations from Oct. 26 to 29.
Senior Supt. Benjamin Silo Jr., Bataan police director, said the arrests were made in the sustained anti-illegal drug operations all over this province.
He identified the arrested suspects as Efren Gomez, 37, of San Vicente, Orion town; Junnel Bartolata, 36, and Ricardo dela Cerna, 30, of Hermosa town; Quenny Rose Constantino, 35, of Camaya, Mariveles town; Jayvee Estrella, 18, of Mt. View, Mariveles; and Myra Santos, 47, of Pantalan Luma, Orion town.
It was learned that Estrella already surrendered to the police and promised not to engage in drug pushing but returned to his illegal activities. He yielded three plastic sachets of suspected shabu.
Eight plastic sachets of suspected shabu were confiscated from Gomez, three from Bartolata and Cerantes, one from Constantino, and two from Santos.
The suspects are facing charges for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.