THE former trusted underling of self-confessed drug lord Franz Sabalones was killed in an ambush in the southern town of Argao, Cebu at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9.
The fatality was identified as Tocelio Debalucos Ababon, who succumbed to gunshot wounds in the head and other parts of his body.
Ababon was in the backseat of a police patrol car during the incident. His escorts--PO3s Ruel Patalinghug and Crescenciano Alajid of Provincial Intelligence Branch--were unharmed.
According to Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit Chief Alejandro Batobalonos, the two officers wore bulletproof vests.
Ababon, who also wore one because he was a high-profile drug personality, was being taken to a hearing on his drug case at the Argao Regional Trial Court. Ababon was arrested after he yielded 1.5 kilos of shabu worth P10.2 million during a drug bust last Dec. 29.
When their vehicle reached Barangay Bulasa, riding-in-tandem assailants on board three motorcycles blocked the road.
The assailants opened fire at the vehicle, hitting Ababon several times. One of the gunmen approached Ababon and finished him off with a bullet to the head.
Alajid and Patalinghug ducked inside the patrol car. When the assailants left, they rushed Ababon to the hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival.
Argao Police Station Chief Jose Rovic Villarin said the assailants used .45 pistols based on the empty shells they recovered in the crime scene.
Meanwhile, Police Regional Office 7 Director Debold Sinas believed Ababon was the main target of the attack.
“We will dig deeper sa story ani. Sa akoa lang ha, baka kahibalo ka na, nagawayaway kay nangadakpan (Drug groups have been at odds with each other with the arrest of high-value targets),” Sinas said.
After his arrest, Ababon told Batobalonos’s team that there were politicians and police officers who protected his illegal activity.
The two police officers he tagged as his protectors are now in the custody of the PRO 7.
Ababon was a native of Barangay Tabunok, Talisay City. He moved to Sitio Bilibid, Barangay Casay in Argao when President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in 2016.
All in all, six of the 22 persons linked to Sabalones had been killed.
Manolito Jasmin Sencil was a high-value target who operated in Cebu and other provinces. Operatives of the Regional Special Operations Group 7 and the Special Action Force raided his house in Sitio Mansueto, Tabunok, Talisay City. He was killed in a shootout after he resisted arrest in August 2017.
Julian Bonghanoy Jr. and Joeser Abacahan, who allegedly worked as Sabalones’s hitmen, died in a shootout in Barangay Maghaway, Talisay City in October 2016.
Jay Jareño, a suspected big-time drug pusher, died in a shootout in a motel compound in Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City in September 2016.
San Isidro Barangay Councilor Neil Abella of San Fernando was tagged by Sabalones after the latter surrendered to former Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa. Abella was shot thrice while leaving a parking lot on Gen. Maxilom Ave. in Cebu City in April 2018. (From AYB of SuperBalita Cebu, KAL, MBV)