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40 Negros cops probed for drugs

PNP exec says policemen’s names appear in validation with different sources

BACOLOD CITY—As the government intensifies its campaign against illegal drugs, some 40 policemen in the Negros Island Region (NIR) have been put under investigation by regional police officials for their alleged involvement in the drug trade.

Chief Supt. Renato Gumban, NIR regional police chief, did not identify the policemen while investigation is ongoing but their names had been sent to the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

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Among those being investigated are two police officials with the ranks of chief inspector and senior inspector, and five noncommissioned officers.

Gumban said the names they submitted to Camp Crame have consistently appeared when they validated the information with at least three sources.

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In October, seven police officials in the NIR were relieved because of their alleged links to illegal drugs.

Chief Insp. Dianne Grace Catedral, regional police spokesperson, said those relieved were Superintendents Jacob Crisostomo, Rosauro Francisco, Santiago Rapiz, Leonardo Angcon, Lino Dalisay, and Joemarie Occeño and Rico Santotome, both ranked chief inspector.

Rapiz and Francisco were reassigned to the Zamboanga Peninsula regional police office, while Crisostomo, Occeño and Santotome were transferred to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao police.

Under the police’s intensified campaign against illegal drugs, called Oplan “Double Barrel Alpha,” the NIR police have focused its efforts on high-value drug personalities, as well as drug peddlers who surrendered but resumed their illegal trade.

The campaign also included rehabilitation of drug users in partnership with local governments, nongovernment organizations, and other government agencies.

In Iloilo City, the Western Visayas regional police confirmed that more than half of villages in the region’s five provinces had been classified as “affected” by illegal drugs.

Supt. Gilbert Gorero, regional police spokesperson, said 1,944 of 3,389 barangays (57 percent) in the region were affected by illegal drugs. These include 1,675 considered as “slightly affected” and 261 moderately affected. Eight are classified “seriously affected.”

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Those considered “slightly affected” are villages where the number of drug pushers or users comprises less than 2 percent of the population. A community is categorized as “moderately affected” if the number of users and pushers fall between 2 and 20 percent of its population.

Those categorized as “seriously affected” are villages where the number of drug suspects is more than 20 percent of the population, or where three or more drug dens, a marijuana plantation, or a drug laboratory are present.

Gorero said Chief Supt. Jose Gentiles, regional police director, has ordered police units in the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras and Iloilo to conduct clearing operations in these drug-affected villages.

Police earlier reported a decline in the drug supply in Western Visayas following the murder of alleged drug lord Melvin Odicta and his wife, Meriam. The couple were shot and killed by a lone gunman as they arrived in Aklan province on Aug. 29.

Several leaders of Odicta’s group and another group led by Richard Prevendido had been arrested or killed in police operations. Prevendido, however, remains at large.

Police said they are monitoring “new players” in the illegal drug trade attempting to operate in Western Visayas.

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TAGS: Illegal drugs, Negros Island Region, PNP‎, Police
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