A LOCAL government official in Iligan City is among the latest casualty in the government’s war against narcotics that have already claimed thousands of lives since President Rodrigo Duterte launched the anti-drug campaign July last year.
Killed by still unidentified assailants was Roberto Fuentes, chairman of Saray village, an area in Iligan well-known for its rampant proliferation of methamphetamine hydrochloride or “shabu.”
In the police report, Fuentes was on board the village patrol vehicle late Thursday afternoon when motorcycle-riding suspects fired at him in front of a hardware store along the national highway in Tibanga.
Police said the Fuentes succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds on his head and body. He was brought to a nearby hospital but was declared dead on arrival by attending physicians.
According to the Iligan city police director Senior Superintendent Leony Roy Ga, Fuentes was on their drug watchlist although he declined to confirm if Fuentes was involved in the shabu trade.
Fuentes had gone to police station 5 to deny his involvement in illegal drugs, but he was not a “Tokhang” responder, Ga said.
Oplan “Tokhang” (knock and plead) is a component of the government’s campaign to eliminate the illegal drug trade in the country.
Ga said Fuentes became active in the anti-drug efforts in Saray since he assumed as the village chief, being the first councilor, when his sister-in-law, Myla Fuentes, resigned as the village chair last April.
In the past few weeks, Fuentes was said to have conducted anti-drug activities in Saray and even arrested a few suspects before turning them over to authorities.
But Ga said they are looking at personal grudges as possible motive although they are not ruling out the angle that his death was due to drugs.
“We are still investigating. It’s likely that there are some people who may have grudges against him (Fuentes),” Ga said in a phone interview Friday afternoon.
Ga said since he was assigned as the city police director of Iligan last July 1, 2016, Saray became priority in the law enforcers’ anti-drug drive.
“The drug distribution in Saray has lessened in the past few months since Tokhang was launched. Saray today is not the same as before,” he added.
He said the police have made arrests there but the drugs confiscated were minimal, but he noted drug dealing has moved to the villages of Tambakan and Tubod based on their most recent operations.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 20, 2017.