SEVERAL local celebrities have been placed under surveillance by the Philippine National Police as suspects in illegal drug trafficking even as officials called on showbiz, music and sports personalities who are into drugs to yield and submit themselves to rehabilitatiion.
Officials said a number of actors have been monitored to be actively involved in drug pushing and abuse, some of them already with previous drug-related arrests while some have been apprehended in the past by rogues in uniform but were released after coughing up huge amounts of money.
At least two showbiz personalities, one of them described as a hunk-television actor and another a young actor who became controversial for fathering a child with a screen partner, were said to be “favorite targets” of corrupt policemen in the southern part of Metro Manila in the past who accost them each time they chance upon them in the streets.
Twice the two actors were freed without charges after succumbing to extortion since they were afraid of a media backlash once they are taken to police headquarters for investigation.
There are also a number of active showbiz personalities and known singer-musicians with drug-related arrests, some of them even jailed abroad in the past but are yet to submit themselves to the ongoing Oplan: Tokhang ordered by PNP chief, Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. de la Rosa.
For his part, PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group director Senior Superintendent Albert Ignatius D. Ferro confirmed they have been monitoring some celebrities whose names cropped up following an operation in San Pedro City, Laguna last month which resulted in the killing of a man believed to be a top supplier of drugs to showbiz stars.
‘‘We’re asking celebrities in drugs to turn themselves in to us just like the thousands who have surrendered to the PNP in line with the ongoing Oplan:Tokhang or they will be our next target,” said Ferro.
A number of persons with links to celebrities have been in the news lately. Last September 11, Ma. Aurora Moynihan, a younger sister of actress Maritoni Fernandez was shot and killed at the corner of Temple Drive and Giraffe Street in Barangay Ugong Norte, Quezon City. The killers placed a cardboard with a warning for drug pushers with celebrity clients that they are next on the kill list.
According to Q.C. Police District director Senior Supt. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar, Moynihan is believed to be selling the designer drug called ecstasy and other party drugs to entertainment celebrities.
The Southern Police District said Moynihan was on their watch list.
Moynihan’s killing came hours after the QCPD identified three individuals suspected of selling ecstasy and other party drugs to celebrities and well-off personalities. The suspects were identified as Edward Nelson Jose, Nathaniel Adrian Cruz and Philip Salonga.
In San Pedro City, police shot and killed Alvin ‘Vergel’ Commerciante, a man believed to be the top supplier of drugs to showbiz stars and his unidentified cohort, in a shootout with AIDG and local police officers. The operation resulted in the seizure of a sizeable amount of shabu and assorted drug paraphernalia.
The officers were serving an arrest warrant on Commerciante when they were met with gunfire as they were approaching the latter’s house in Adelina Subdivision in Barangay San Vicente.
Commerciante and his live-in partner Criselda Padilla — said to be related to the Padilla showbiz family — have been tagged as alleged suppliers of shabu and ecstasy to showbiz personalities.
Padilla and two other men were arrested after the firefight with the PNP-AIDG officers. Police described Commerciante as a “hitman” of a drug lord detained in the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City. Police said they have information that Commerciante had targeted pushers who failed to remit drug money to financiers.