AN ALLEGED sidekick of Rowen “Yawa” Secretaria surrendered together with more than 50 drug users and 11 pushers inside the gym of Barangay Ermita, Cebu City yesterday morning.
Meanwhile, 45 drug pushers and users in Liloan town swore they will give up any involvement in illegal narcotics, after the police and barangay officials arranged for them to meet with the new mayor.
“Mapasalamaton mi sa inyong gipakita nga mag-usab (We are thankful that you have promised to change yourselves),” Liloan Mayor Christina Garcia-Frasco told them.
The surrenders, which have also been reported in other parts of the country, are in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s pledge to suppress the illegal drug trade within the year.
In Barangay Ermita yesterday, Benjamin Fuentes said he used to be a dispatcher for Secretaria, Cebu’s third biggest drug lord who was killed by a police team last May 28 in Getafe, Bohol.
“Nakuyawan sad ko ba sige’g tago-tago, hadlok sad. Mo-undang na gyud ko (The idea of hiding scares me. I will really stop being involved in drugs now),” he said.
Fuentes said he also feared for the safety of his four children and 11 grandchildren, after alleged drug personalities started to turn up dead.
He said his dealings with Secretaria started last year but when the drug lord died, his supply of shabu was cut off and he decided to stop.
Secretaria hails from Barangay Ermita and has served time in the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City for a robbery conviction.
From there, Secretaria met some connections, learned the drug trade and upon his release, immediately went to Banacon in Getafe to operate there, according to Ermita Barangay Captain Felicisimo Rupinta.
Rupinta also said that the supply of drugs in his barangay has lessened.
“Kaluoy sa Ginoo gamay na lang gyud kayo. Paminaw nako nga tiwasonon ang stocks sukad nawala na to si Yawa ug si Jaguar kay ilang supply maabot man sa Ermita (Thank God there seems to be only a little amount left. These are probably the last of the stocks since Yawa and Jaguar were killed. Their supply used to reach Ermita),” he said.
Rupinta admitted that Ermita was number one in the concentration of drugs among Cebu City’s barangays but clarified that they have no drug factory.
The barangay captain is planning to give Fuentes a stall in the Carbon market where he can sell vegetables so he can have a new source of income.
Senior Insp. Joel Corpuz of the Carbon Police Station said they conducted Oplan Tokhang or Toktok Hangyo starting at 6 a.m. in Barangay Ermita.
“We informed our tanods to tell everyone that whoever wants to surrender should surrender now or else we will implement all the legal modes of operations against them,” he said.
Cebu City Office on Drug Abuse Director Dr. Alice Utlang said in an interview that next week, her office will conduct a briefing along with the barangay captain of Ermita for those who have surrendered.
They will identify who among the group can undergo rehabilitation as outpatients for three months, and who will have to be endorsed to a center for at least a year.
Efforts to persuade people to surrender are part of the “double-barrel program” of the Philippine National Police (PNP). Oplan Tokhang is the first stage, while the second phase will require building up cases against those who refuse to give up using or selling illegal drugs.
Sought for comment, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña questioned the barangay officials: “It’s good, but how come they were not doing this before? How come they’re doing it now?”
Osmeña pointed out that the officials had plenty of time to do their part and didn’t have to wait for Secretaria’s death last May.
In Barangay Tisa, nine drug users and a pusher also decided to surrender.
A certain Jojo, a drug user, said he surrendered for his own safety and for the chance to redeem his name. He also said he was thankful for the operation.
Senior Insp. Alvin Llamedo, chief of Police Station 10, said the plan is for these ex-drug users to serve as an example and to encourage other drug users to surrender for their own good.
Llamedo also informed those who surrendered that the police force intends to help them so they won’t be idle or be lured back into the drug trade.
In Liloan town, 45 drug pushers and users swore before Mayor Frasco that they will no longer be involved in illegal drugs.
Insp. Stanley Canoy, the town’s deputy police chief, escorted the persons to the mayor’s office around 11 a.m. These persons were residents of Barangays Poblacion and San Vicente.
Poblacion Barangay Captain Gloria Sanchez and San Vicente Barangay Captain Primitivo Mantuhak officially presented them to the mayor and her husband, Vice Mayor Vincent Franco “Duke” Frasco.
The mayor told them they must, as part of their commitment, stop using or selling drugs and inform the authorities about other persons that are involved in the illegal trade. They must also undergo rehabilitation.
Vina (not her real name), 19, the youngest among those who surrendered, said she was afraid what might happen to her so she stopped using illegal drugs. She also wants to start over for the sake of her one-year-old child.
She said she began using drugs at age 16.
Senior Insp. Ramil Morpos, Liloan town’s police chief, said that five of those who surrendered were on the town’s drug watch list.
One had a pending case, but an arrest warrant has yet to be issued.
Barangay Councilman Vicente Bugtai, chairman of Poblacion’s peace and order committee, said they encouraged the drug personalities to surrender.
“Sila mismo niduol. Maingon nato aduna sila’y kabalaka sa ilang kinabuhi (They came to us to surrender. They feared for their safety),” Bugtai said.
Mayor Frasco said that the municipality will give them training programs and get them involved in such activities as cleaning up the town and planting trees.
“We just want to make it very clear that the voluntary submission of these individuals does not in any way waive their criminal liability under the law. It is really more for information-gathering to assist in identifying any other personalities that may be involved in drugs,” said the mayor, who is a lawyer.
Frasco said the instruction was “to really have zero tolerance for illegal drugs.” Angiela Mae Conte, USJ-R Intern