STEPPED UP campaign against public officials involved in illegal drug trafficking resulted in the arrest of eight suspects including six barangay officials and a former municipal councilor during a series of raids in Bayambang, Pangasinan.
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Isidro S. Lapeña yesterday said the suspects who were all classified as “high-value drug targets” were arrested by members of the PDEA Regional Office 1, the Pangasinan Police Provincial Office under Senior Superintendent Ronald O. Lee and the Philippine Army, who raided the suspects’ residences based on 10 search warrants for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Lapeña identified the arrested suspects as barangay captains Eduardo Alcantara, of Bgy. Beleng; Roderick Casingal, of Bgy. Iton; Remato Soriano, of Bgy. Tamaro; George Balbin, of Bgy. Nalsian Sur; and Gildo Madriano, of Bgy. San Gabriel; kagawad Mark Monderin of Bgy. Malimpec; Gerardo de Vera, also a former municipal councilor residing in Bgy. Zone 1 and Jose Sandy Gavino, a resident of Bgy. Tamaro.
Confiscated during the operations were 20 plastic sachets containing around 40 grams of suspected shabu worth P200,000, two airsoft rifle guns, one Glock .40 pistol, a .9 mm pistol, assorted live ammunition and several drug paraphernalia.
“Six of the arrested drug personalities are the newest addition to the growing list of barangay officials to have been involved in the country’s illegal drug trade. These supposed highest elected officials in their communities are the ones enmeshed in illegal drug activities, instead of taking care of the welfare of their constituents,” Lapeña said.
Based on consolidated PDEA data, 65 barangay officials, composed of six barangay chairmen and 59 barangay kagawads, were arrested for drug-related offenses in 2015, or 18.18 percent higher than the arrests made in 2014 when 55 village officials composed of 10 barangay chairmen and 45 barangay kagawads were arrested and jailed for drugs.
The figures stated is the highest since 2013 when 11 barangay captains and 29 barangay councilmen or 40 barangay officials were taken into custody. The numbers have increased significantly each succeeding year.
From January to October 2 this year, 11 barangay chairmen and 40 barangay kagawads, or 51 barangay officials were already arrested for violation of RA 9165.
Officials of the PNP and the PDEA have posed the question: “How can public officials including barangay authorities effectively help the national government arrest the major drug threat when they themselves are either directly or indirectly involved in illicit drug trafficking and abuse?”
They include the late Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa; Luisito “Pachot” Asistio, a brother of Caloocan City Vice Mayor Macario Asistio who is now the target of a manhunt for allegedly operating a secret shabu den in the city; and Quezon City Councilor Hero Bautista, a brother of Q.C. Mayor Herbert Bautista who tested positive for substance abuse.
The involvement of public officials and law enforcement agents in drug activities further aggravates the drug situation and gives the PDEA and the PNP a big headache.
However, PNP chief Director Director General Ronald “Bato” M. dela Rosa said their mandate is clear and that there will be no compromise when it comes to the enforcement of the law.
“We will arrest whoever will be violating the anti-drugs law whether they are our fellow law enforcers or not,” Dela Rosa stressed.