Drug problem in Cebu City now ‘alarming’

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Friday, April 29, 2011


FOLLOWING a series of drug-related crimes in Cebu City, Mayor Michael Rama instructed his consultant on public safety, former councilor, Sylvan Jakosalem, to get an updated assessment on the drug situation in the city.

This, after the mayor learned that most, if not all, of the crimes committed in the city the past days are related to illegal drugs.

Rama received a report that the grenade-throwing incident in Sitio Ponce 2, Barangay Carreta last Wednesday was drug-related as well.

Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Chief Melvin Ramon Buenafe said the incident may have been drug-related, but police are still investigating what drove the suspects to throw the grenade that killed eatery owner Eduardo Natividad and wounded his wife Rosita and their seven-year-old grandson.

The police are also investigating the source of the grenade.

Buenafe said murder charges were filed yesterday against two of the suspects arrested by the police: Eldie Otadoy Mahinay, 40, and Alvin Goc-ong Cabang, 24. An accomplice of the suspects remains at large.

Manhunt

Enrique Ermac Bata-lung, whom Mahinay identified as the one who instructed them to throw the grenade in the eatery, is also the subject of a manhunt.

Batalung is said to be Rodrigo “Badang” Cansan-cio’s partner in the illegal drugs business.

One of the grandsons of the victim, whose name was withheld for being a minor, said Batalung often ate at their eatery when Cansancio lived there.

Salome Natividad, Eduardo’s daughter, revealed that a rift arose between Cansancio and Batalung when the former failed to turn over to the latter a huge amount representing the proceeds of their illegal drugs business.

Cansancio reportedly ran away with two packs of shabu, which angered Batalung. The conflict prompted Cansancio to hide in Minglanilla.

To force him to come out, Batalung allegedly ordered the grenade blast on Cansancio’s family last Wednesday noon.

Buenafe said Mahinay, one of the suspects, was arrested for illegal possession of drugs last year.

Worsened

At City Hall yesterday, Rama said he has asked Jakosalem to talk to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

Jakosalem, in a separate interview, admitted that the drug problem in the city has worsened and is now “alarming.”

The former councilor, who once chaired the committee on dangerous drugs in the City Council, observed that these problems didn’t happen in the city during his time.

Jakosalem also noticed that anti-drug units are no longer as active in conducting drug raids and buy-busts as before.

“There is a failure in our anti-drug campaign whether sa police, sa LGU or sa education. Klaro kayo kay wa ko kaagi ani kaniadto nga tanang krimen nga mahitabo sa City are all drug-related. Whatever they’re doing, it is not working (We did not have these problems before),” Jakosalem said.

The former councilor cited recent incidents, such as the shooting in Pardo, the death by hacking of two men whose bodies were found in Barangay Taptap last week, and the grenade blast in Carreta.

Number one

PDEA 7 Acting Director Adrian Alvariño disagreed with Jakosalem’s assessment.

He said most of the anti-drug activities are done in Cebu City, which is why Central Visayas was number one in the country in anti-drug operations last month.

Alvariño said the PDEA has not neglected its duties and continues to conduct anti-drug operations regularly.

He admitted, though, that many crimes committed in Cebu and in the entire country are drug-related based on the cases faced by prison inmates nationwide.

Upon the instruction of the mayor, Jakosalem said he will call a meeting with all the anti-drug units on Tuesday to develop a strategy.

Jakosalem said they will assess existing programs and come up with an effective strategy, including a drug education program.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 29, 2011.

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