CHIEF Superintendent Cesar Binag, director of Police Regional Office (PRO) Western Visayas commended the community for helping and providing the police with the information to locate the whereabouts of Western Visayas' high-value target (HVT) Ramy Poja.
On May 24, Poja, 36, the most wanted person of Police Station 3 in Bacolod City, and his cousin Roberto Lim, both HVTs, were killed in a shootout with authorities at Sitio Sibucao, Barangay Banago.
Poja and his group engaged in two separate firefights with police operatives on Thursday after they were seen in the said village.
Wounded on the second encounter was Poja's companion Rusty Constantino, while injured on the first encounter was Senior Inspector Victor Paulino, head of Police Station 3; Erlinda Cordova and her son Jhodan Cordova, 20, both hit by stray bullets.
Arrested were Poja's girlfriend, Claudine Bindol, and a certain Cyril Jarina, who were inside the house of a certain Salvador Poja during the second encounter.
Binag said if the community did not give information to the authorities, it will not result to Poja's neutralization.
"We commend the community more than the accomplishment of the police," he added.
"The community continued feeding information to the authorities even if the situation was already intense," Binag said.
"I think this is the message we should be conveying to the public, that if not for the residents in the community, police will still have difficulty in hunting down Poja,” he added.
When asked about the alleged reports that the community in the said village is protecting Poja, Binag said those are assumptions.
He said he also wanted to give the people benefit of the doubt.
"Through their help, it also gives them peace of mind," he said.
Charges against the three arrested persons are being readied by police to be filed Saturday, May 26.
The wounded suspect is still under hospital arrest.
The two arrested persons were also subjected to a paraffin test.
Meanwhile, Binag said the result of the recent police operation must be a warning to other drug personalities to stop their illegal activities now.
He said they have other targets but he refused to elaborate on the matter.
Binag said he is happy that top drug personalities in the region were already arrested since last year.
He wanted the police to also focus in the arrests of most wanted persons, citing the increase of 59 percent in the first quarter on their campaign against wanted persons compared to 2017 covering the same period.
Binag said this is also a challenge to everyone that the fight against criminality and illegal drugs should be a joint effort from the public and the authorities.
"We should help each other," the police official added.
Binag was in Bacolod City Friday to commend the operating teams that led the neutralization of Poja on Thursday.
Awarded with Medalya ng Sugatang Magiting (Philippine National Police Wounded Personnel Medal) was Paulino. He also received Medalya nag Kagalingan (PNP Medal of Merit).
Also awarded with PNP Medal of Merit were Senior Superintendent Francisco Ebreo, officer-in-charge of Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO), Inspector Adrian James Albayar, assistant team leader of City Drug Enforcement Unit (CDEU), Inspector Fermin Pula, and 32 other non-commissioned officer-members of Bacolod City Mobile Force Company, Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat), and Police Station 3.
Medalya ng Papuri (PNP Commendation Medal) was also given to Superintendent Leonardo Borromeo and 16 other non-commissioned officers.
Also recognized and given PNP Commendation Medal during the awarding rites were Superintendent Julie Cabrera, Inspector Vernon Jhon Llovido, Superintendent Ritchie Yatar, and seven other non-commissioned officers for their invaluable service rendered on the arrests of Gregori Parreno and Cesar Parreno by virtue of arrest warrant for murder with no bail issued by Judge Dyna Doll Chiongson-Trocio of Regional Trial Court Branch 40. (GYM)