AUTHORITIES rescued a 17-year-old alleged junkie from a drug den in Sitio Bato, Barangay Ermita, Cebu City last Sunday night.

Her fellow 13 suspected users, however, was arrested along with the alleged drug den operator.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) 7 Director Yogi Filemon Ruiz said the minor was turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7 for counseling.

Ruiz identified the alleged operator as Richard Empidad Cañete, a high-value target. The suspect’s alleged cohort, Josephine Romano Cuyno, escaped arrest after she sensed the operatives.

He said they might press charges against officials of Barangay Ermita for refusing to cooperate with them, Brigada News reported.

The Police Regional Office 7 will also look into why the Cebu City Police Station 5 in Carbon Public Market failed to raid the drug den.

They seized around 150 grams of white crystals believed to be shabu worth P800,000 from Cañete, who refused to divulge his supplier. Fourteen illegal gambling machines were also confiscated in the drug den.

Ruiz said drug peddlers sourced their shabu from Cañete, whose illegal activity was confirmed after a three-week surveillance.

Drug den visitors who were caught were Kevin Estoce Padilla, 23; Jetro Nuñez Bocog, 30; Alvin Porras Villarosa, 26; Romeo Bayking Flores, 52; Marjul Sarucab Escalante, 29; Agustianet Padilla Ababa, 39; Tessie Padilla Ababa, 37; Orlando Baydal Delubio, 34; Gilbert Suson Villahermosa, 37; Joselito Villaflores Milca, 39; Noel Cuevas Caritan, 51; Ricardo Gatis, 57; and Roderick Reyes Racaza, 43.

Operatives from the PDEA 7, Regional Special Operations Group and Central Command’s Task Group Cebu conducted the operation against Cañete and it was authorized by a search warrant issued by Cebu City Regional Trial Court Branch 12 Judge Stella Alma Singco.

Complaints for violating Sections 6 (maintenance of a drug den), 11 (possession of dangerous drugs), and 12 (possession of drug paraphernalia) of Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002) will be filed against Cañete.

Cuyno will face charges for violating Sections 6 and 12, while the suspected junkies will face a complaint for visiting a drug den.

Denial

In response to allegations that Barangay Ermita officials did not cooperate with PDEA 7.

In a phone interview yesterday, Rupinta said he, along with other village officials stayed in the barangay hall the whole afternoon, waiting for the authorities to ask for their help.

“If they were to follow the procedure, they should have cordoned the area and asked an elected official to come to make sure the law is not violated. I assume they did not call us under the impression that we could probably be drug protectors,” he said.

He said the operation last Sunday was the first time the PDEA did not ask for their assistance.

“How could we be protectors when our barangay has the highest number of apprehended individuals involved in drugs? We’ve also conducted checkpoints in our area for 17 years. We were the ones who tipped the authorities on the situation in Sitio Bato,” Rupinta said.

Investigation

In a separate interview, Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) president Philip Zafra said an investigation will be done to clear the matter.

Despite this, he maintained that ABC is firm in its thrust in being the frontrunners of the anti-drug campaign.

Last July, 41 village chiefs took oath before the Police Regional Office 7 to express their support on the war against illegal drugs.