P1-M bounty up for top drug suspect in Western Visayas
ILOILO CITY—Local government officials have put up a P1-million reward for the capture of a suspected drug trafficker believed to be in control of at least half of the illegal drugs supply in Western Visayas.
The bounty on the suspect, Richard Prevendido, is the biggest offered so far for a drug suspect in the region, said Senior Supt. Remus Zacharias Canieso, head of the city police. Western Visayas is composed of the provinces of Iloilo, Guimaras, Aklan, Antique and Capiz.
“One million is one million,” Canieso said, adding that the reward would “encourage potential informants to provide leads and real-time information” about Prevendido and his whereabouts.
It could also entice some members of his gang to squeal on their leader, he said. He, however, clarified that only civilians were entitled to the reward.
Prevendido emerged as the top police target in the war on drugs in Western Visayas following the deaths of alleged drug lord Melvin Odicta and his wife, Merriam.
The couple were shot and killed as they disembarked from a ship at Caticlan port in Malay, Aklan province, on Aug. 29, 2016. The assailants have remained unknown.
According to the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Prevendido led one of the two groups supplying drugs in Western Visayas; Odicta headed the other.
Prevendido, who is also known as “Buang” (crazed), has eluded arrest and appeared to have abandoned his house in the city’s Mandurriao District since June 30 last year when President Duterte launched a brutal war on drugs. Several of his relatives and followers have been caught on charges of involvement in the drug trade.
“He keeps on moving and transferring between provinces and other islands,” Canieso said of Prevendido.
In August last year, Mr. Duterte called Iloilo as the country’s “most shabulized” area and named policemen, lawyers and government officials allegedly involved in illegal drugs.
Even in last week’s Dinagyang Festival, drugs had been a recurring theme.
Police have arrested 1,375 drug suspects in Western Visayas from July 1, 2016, to Jan. 10 this year and have gunned down 23 drug suspects who reportedly resisted during buy-bust operations. Those who surrendered reached 19,857.
The provincial peace and order council has authorized Gov. Arthur Defensor to allocate P500,000 from provincial funds for Prevendido’s bounty.
Another P500,000 would come from the city government under Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who himself has been named as a drug coddler by the President—an accusation Mabilog has vehemently denied.
Mabilog, to back his innocence, said he had taken measures, including the implementation of a community-based rehabilitation program, to combat the drug menace.
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