CEBU (Updated) -- THREE town councilors described as narco-politicians for their alleged involvement in drug trafficking were caught in separate raids in the southern town of San Fernando, Cebu yesterday morning.
Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Noli Taliño described the suspects--San Fernando Councilors Johnny Arriesgado, Edwin Villaver, and Alfonso Donaire IV--as drug protectors.
An intelligence report implicated the three men as collaborators of self-confessed drug lord Franz Sabalones, brother of San Fernando Vice Mayor Fralz “BB” Sabalones.
“According to reports I received, they are drug protectors because they act as middlemen whenever a drug personality is arrested in their areas. In short, inaarbor nila,” Taliño said.
He said they are monitoring several rogue public officials.
Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO)-Provincial Intelligence Branch (PIB) Chief Joie Yape Jr. said that Arriesgado, Villaver and Donaire are high-level targets.
They were placed under surveillance for several months, Yape added.
Unlicensed firearms were seized from the suspects, while 16 grams of “shabu” worth P296,000 were confiscated from Villaver and Donaire. Suspects are allied with San Fernando Mayor Lakambini Reluya and Fralz.
Taliño said they are still investigating if these councilors are engaged in drug pushing.
The suspects, for their part, denied they are into selling illegal drugs.
Arriesgado is the incumbent barangay captain of Magsico and serves as the Association of Barangay Councils president, making him an ex-officio member of the Municipal Council. He admitted he is a former junkie.
He was arrested in his house in Magsico at 4:30 a.m. Seized from him were two .45 pistols, a defective .30 carbine, bullets, a frame of a .30 carbine, and an empty shell.
Arriesgado admitted owning the firearms. He said had informed local police that he kept them as defense against criminals in his village, including pushers.
“I’ve been going after drug users that’s why they’re arrested in other areas because the barangay’s campaign against drugs is tough, and I’m at the helm of the campaign,” he said in Cebuano.
An hour later, police arrested Villaver in his house in Barangay Greenhills.
Two .9mm pistols, a revolver, and eight grams of “shabu” worth P148,000 were taken from him.
Past 6 a.m., Donaire, the public order and safety chairman, was caught in Barangay North Poblacion. Confiscated from him were two .45 pistols, bullets, magazine, and eight grams of “shabu.”
Donaire denied owning the firearms and the illegal drugs, but admitted knowing Franz.
He said he is disappointed with his arrest as he is active in the drive against illegal drugs.
Arriesgado and Donaire accused their rivals as the brains behind their arrest, while Villaver refused to issue a statement.
Taliño said the suspects’ active involvement in anti-drug campaign is a “front” to cover up their real activities.
The raids were a joint effort by operatives of the PRO 7 and CPPO.
The search warrants were issued by Danao City Regional Trial Court Branch 25 Judge Jerry Dicdican.
Violations of illegal possession of firearms will be filed against the three councilors, while Villaver and Donaire will face separate complaints for violating the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.
At 5:45 p.m. yesterday, PIB-led operatives arrested Putat, Tuburan Barangay Councilor Raul Misa Cole Sr. for possession of unlicensed firearms, four packs of “shabu,” bullets and drug paraphernalia.