THERE is talk that suspected drug dealer Alvaro "Barok" Alvaro was not in the company of another alleged drugs boss, Jeffrey "Jaguar" Diaz when the latter was gunned down by a police team from Cebu in a supposed encounter in Las Piñas City last week.

Barok, against whom a warrant of arrest was issued by a Cebu judge in connection with the murder of a town police chief, was the target of their operation, according to the police, but they found a bigger fish in Jaguar, whom they, to borrow police lingo, "neutralized" after a shootout. Alvaro managed to escape, the story goes.

But while he was in Manila at that time, Alvaro was nowhere near Las Piñas, a news report yesterday said, quoting a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agent from Bohol. The NBI man must have gotten his information only from Barok after the latter surrendered to them last Tuesday.

NBI Bohol Chief Rennan Oliva wisely played down the claim in an obvious effort not to ruffle the feathers of the police and strain the relations between the two law enforcement agencies. Their priority, Rennan said, was how to use whatever information that they could extract from Barok in the fight against illegal drugs.

But I'm sure there are other agencies who are eager to pursue the reported claim, the Commission on Human Rights, for example. On their part, the police should welcome the probe if only to erase any doubt on the truthfulness of their account of what happened in Las Piñas on June 17.

Let me ask these, though: Why would the police falsely claim that Barok was with Jaguar that day? What purpose would it (the lie) serve them? And why use Alvaro's name, knowing that he was alive and was therefore in a position to expose their lie?

Alvaro should be able to provide at least some of the answers. However, it seems unlikely that we're going to get them from him soon. The fellow is not talking to the media, a prudent move advised by his lawyer. We will have to rely on the information that the NBI is willing to release, which cannot be much otherwise it would jeopardize their operations against these modern day scourge, the peddlers of illegal drugs.

At the end of the day, that is what really matters, and not who was with whom, when.


The Cebu City Council is on reverse gear. After initially refusing to act on the revised 2016 general budget that Acting Mayor Margot Osmeña submitted, they -- all four of them -- are now saying that they're ready to tackle her proposal.

Councilor Richard Osmeña said they were moved by pity for City Hall employees, who would not be paid their bonus unless a new budget was passed. The outgoing councilor is a nephew of Margot's husband, incoming Mayor Tomas Osmeña.

I have my reservations on the legality, not to mention wisdom, of only four members of a 17-man body deliberating and possibly passing a budget ordinance and with only seven days to go of their term of office. A midnight budget replacing a re-enacted one, that's one for the books.

City Hall employees should be happy over this rare show of solidarity between the executive and legislative departments at City Hall. I'm not buying Richie's claim, however, that it was the plight of the employees that made them abandon their position in less than a week.

Does this signal the start of a major political realignment at City Hall? That bears watching.