SUSPECTED Cebu-based drug lord Franz Sabalones named former Regional Intelligence Division (RID) chief Rex Derilo and former Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG) chief George Ylanan and 18 other policemen and a Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agent as his protectors.
Sabalones, who surrendered to Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa last August, claimed that he gave weekly protection money to these law enforcers so that they would not conduct an aggressive campaign against illegal drugs in his (Sabalones's) network. Sabalones said he spent some half-a-million pesos weekly for “payola” to various law enforcement agencies.
I think this is the reason why Derilo and Ylanan were included in the initial revamp among PNP officers in the region together with former Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 chief Patrocinio Comendador. Derilo was assigned to the Zamboanga del Norte provincial command in Region 9 while Ylanan was assigned to Region 10. But the two officers are now temporarily detailed at the holding center of Camp Crame to face investigation on Sabalones's allegation.
I will not give weight to the testimony of Sabalones. Why? He might be telling the truth, but on second thought he might also be inventing a story so that these police officers would be put in a bad light. He might have “an ax to grind” against these police officers.
Among the seniors officers in the regional command, why was only Derilo and Ylanan tagged? What about the past regional directors, provincial directors and city and town police chiefs who had control in his areas of distribution? What about politicians in various local government units (LGUs) where his network operates?
Sabalones was the “main distributor” of illegal drugs in the southern part of the province and got his stock from Peter Co, a known drug lord now serving prison term at the New Bilibid Prison. Sources said that Sabalones's network is still doing the illegal drugs trade until now even if he is in the custody of the PNP. And some of his contacts are barangay officials.
If those drug lords in Bilibid were still able to operate their illegal drug business where their movements are strictly monitored, why can't Sabalones do it? His “well-entrenched” organization is still intact, according to sources.
Why does Sabalones have an ax to grind or is striking back (“resbak”) at Derilo and Ylanan? Police sources say that the units led by Derilo and Ylanan were hot on Sabalones's trail before he surrendered. After their successful operations against big-time drug lords, Rowen “Yawa” Secretaria in Banacon island in Getafe, Bohol and Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz in Las Piñas, the next target was Sabalones.
It was the units of Derilo and Ylanan, upon instruction from the higher-ups, that conducted surveillance on Sabalones. There was one occasion that the group was about to strike on Sabalones, who was hiding in a resort in Ozamis City, but the operation failed because it leaked. Sabalones managed to evade arrest.
After another drug lord, Alvaro Alvaro alias Barok surrendered to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Bohol, Sabalones also planned to surrender here but changed his plan for fear of his life. He instead surrendered to the PNP chief upon the prodding of his brother, San Fernando Vice Mayor Bebie Sabalones, who was mistakenly announced by President Rodrigo Duterte as the drug lord. Sabalones feared that what happened to Yawa and Jaguar under the units of Derilo and Ylanan would also happen to him.
I am not saying that we should dismiss outright the revelation of Sabalones against these police officers because, as what I have said, he might be also telling the truth. Sabalones admitted that he did not have direct transactions with these police officers. He said that he “delivered” the money through an errand. Both officers denied the allegation. Now, it's up to the public whom to believe.
It's good that the PNP hierarchy is seriously investigating these allegations to ferret out the truth. If evidence warrant, then by all means, dismiss these officers from service and file the necessary criminal charges. But if they are also innocent of the charge from an alleged drug lord, they also deserve to be cleared.