TWO siblings and a nephew of Balingasag, Misamis Oriental town mayor, Marietta Roa-Abogado, have been arrested by operatives in Northern Mindanao on Thursday morning, November 10.
Armed with a search warrant, joint operation by police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) raided the Roa ancestral house in Barangay 5, Balingasag town and arrested lawyer Michael Roa after some 15 grams of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride or "shabu" was supposedly seized inside his room.
Another 20 grams of suspected "shabu" was also allegedly found in the room of his brother Porferio Roa Jr. while several drug paraphernalia were allegedly recovered in the room of Johnrey Roa and live-in partner Justine Mae Pontevilla.
"5-6 rooms yung bahay. May nakuha tayong more or less 40 grams na suspected shabu sa ibat-ibang rooms and may nakita tayong evidences regarding sa mga transactions and posibleng ginagawa din itong drug den," PDEA-Northern Mindanao Regional Director Adrian Albariño said.
Albariño said the drug suspects were high valued targets and have long been involved in illegal drugs trade not only in Balingasag but also in neighboring towns.
The PDEA regional chief said more drug personalities may have sourced illegal drugs from the suspects.
"High valued target ito [Michael Roa] kasi abogado and galing sa malaking pamilya. Marming personality na pumupunta sa kanila baka kasi akala nila protected sila (These are high valued target because he’s [Michael Roa] a lawyer and came from prominent family)," Albariño said.
Albariño added there were previous reports about the arrset of mayor’s sibling due to illegal drugs but eventually bailed out.
"Matagal na nagbebenta [ng illegal drugs]. May reports na nahuli na ibang kapatid dahil sa droga pero nakalaya. We will process the papers nang sagayon ay di na sila makalabas (They were selling illegal drugs long before. There were reports that the mayor’s sibling was arrested due to drugs but eventually bailed out. We will process the papers so that they can’t be freed anymore)," Albariño added.
Albariño said they have yet to furnish the copy of their report to Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) so the department can act on the alleged illegal drug activities involving the town mayor's kin and if Roa-Abogado has liability over kin’s involvement to drugs.
He also said the police regional headquarters should question why the town police failed to neutralize the illegal drug activities of the suspects.
"Sila talaga ang nasa control ng illegal drugs sa bayan and we are hoping na dahil nahuli na sila ay mababawasan ang malaking supply sa Balingasag (They controlled the activities of illegal drugs in the town and we are hoping that through their arrest, the supply [of illegal drugs] in Balingasag will lessen)," Albariño said.
Chief Inspector Ariel Philip Pontillas, deputy chief of the Regional Intelligence Division, said police shared information on the suspects with the anti-narcotics agency.
Pontillas said the information were verified and validated, prompting the team to conduct surveillance.
He added with the suspects’ arrest, the amount of illegal drugs circulating in Balingasag town will decrease.
Lawyer Michael Roa, meanwhile, said he intends to question the legality of the search, adding, he will file his counter affidavit before the fiscal's office.
"I signed the findings of PDEA under protest. Ang shabu nga nakuha is not really mine,” Michael Roa said.
Albariño said he is not surprised by the suspects assertion that the raiding team planted evidence.
"The allegation nga giplantingan og shabu and other allegations are common sa mga suspect and they have time to explain in the proper forum when the case is filed (The allegation about planting of shabu other allegations are common among suspects, they have time to explain in the proper forum when the case is filed)," Albariño said.