A SUSPECTED drug lord and four of his alleged underlings were killed in a shootout with a team from the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 in Barangay Cawayan, Inabanga, Bohol, Sunday morning (June 5).

Superintendent George Ylanan, the Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG) chief, identified the slain alleged group leader as David Mellomida Anunciado.

“Hawod-hawod ni siya sa ilang lugar. Magpagawas siya og armas (He was a neighborhood thug. He often brandished his firearm),” he told Sun.Star Cebu in a phone interview. “Dugay-dugay na siya nga problema (He was a problem for a long time).”

The others who also died in the shootout were identified as Medes Enoc, Alipio Anuta, Milkins Ohina and Pio Justol.

Three members of the group were captured alive. They are Darya Añanna Nuñez, Justino Vistal Esturba, and Renato Ompad Peticio.

Chief Superintendent Patrocinio Comendador Jr., the PRO-Central Visayas director, congratulated Ylanan’s team for the successful operation.

“We will continue to hunt down drug syndicates until the last of them shall have been accounted for,” he told Sun.Star Cebu.

The operation happened eight days after the PRO operatives killed suspected drug lord Rowen “Yawa” Secretaria and two of his subordinates in Banacon islet in Getafe town, Bohol. (Inabanga is about 42 kilometers from Getafe, according to www.distancesfrom.com.)

Police said they seized several firearms, live hand grenades and nearly P3 million worth of shabu from the suspects. Cash amounting to P67,083 and US$116 (about P5,392) were also found.

Anunciado, whom police described as a level one drug pusher, also allegedly led a robbery and private armed group that operated mostly in northern Bohol. The group reportedly sourced their supply of illegal drugs from Metro Manila.

Ylanan said they still have to check if Anunciado’s group was involved in other incidents in other provinces, including Cebu.

Other police units had attempted to arrest the elusive suspect twice in the past, but they failed.

Aside from RSOG, officers from the Regional Intelligence Division, Regional Public Safety Batallion 7 and Inabangan Police Station took part in the raid.

“Lipay kaayo ang mga tawo. Gitagaan mig softdrinks, pan, kape. Gapiyesta ang mga taga diri (The people were so happy after the operation. They offered softdrinks, bread and coffee to us. They were festive),” he said.

The official said the reaction of Cawayan’s residents was different from that of some of those living in Banacon who were angered by the death of Secretaria.

Comendador has ordered the Regional Police Community Relations Division to conduct an anti-drug abuse symposium in Banacon this week. The police official said he will go to the islet, which he described as a transshipment point for illegal drugs from Metro Manila.

Ylanan said that Anunciado was not connected with Secretaria.

When asked what PRO would do if there would be complaints about the operation against Anunciado, Comendador said they are open to any inquiry.

“We will always welcome any probe in this regard, but this will not diminish our aggressiveness against drug criminals,” he said.

Before the operation happened at 8 a.m., the police had received complaints and reports about Anunciado. They had been conducting surveillance on the group months before the national and local elections last May 9.

The PRO resumed their undercover work on the group after the elections and secured search warrants from a Regional Trial Court in Tagbilaran City.

Anunciado and his alleged cohort Edwin Estoce Puhas were named subjects in the warrants for alleged violation of Republic 10591, or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.

As the operatives led by Ylanan were on their way to serve the search warrants, eight armed men outside a hut in an open field started to shoot at them.

The operatives took cover and retaliated.

When the suspects ran inside the hut, they chased them.

The gunfight ended after the five suspects were already down and the three others surrendered. Puhas was not with the group during the shootout.

The hut is about five kilometers from the national highway.

A .22 caliber sniper rifle with scope, M16 rifle, KG9 submachine gun, 12-gauge shotgun, four .45 pistols, three live hand grenades and several bullets were recovered from the suspects.

The operatives also found 52 big packs of white crystals believed to be shabu. The contraband weighed 260 grams and its estimated worth was pegged at P2.84 million.

Complaints of illegal possession of firearms, explosives and violating the Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, will be filed against the three suspects.