FRANZ Sabalones, one of the suspected drug lords in Central Visayas, surrendered to Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa yesterday.
He is the brother of San Fernando, Cebu Vice Mayor Fralz “BB” Sabalones, one of the 159 persons President Rodrigo Duterte named as protectors of drug personalities, and who also went to Camp Crame yesterday to try to clear his name.
“Sakit sa akong ulo no na karon na nakuanan ta ba kay dugay na nakadungog ko sa iyang pangalan pero wa pa nako na kumpirma kay nalain mi ug linya sa pagtan-aw sa kinabuhi (I was annoyed when I heard reports of my brother’s links to drugs, but I couldn’t confirm it because we chose different paths in life),” said the vice mayor.
One of the vice mayor’s staff members said the vice mayor has been on official leave since last Friday.
Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 director, said that Franz’s surrender is a big blow to the illegal drug trade in the region.
“Yung mga galamay niya nawalan ng ulo, kaya lalo silang magkakawatak-watak (This loss of their leader will break them up),” he said.
Sources from the local police said Franz has no pending drug cases in court. But his alleged operation is said to be as big as that of the suspected drug lord Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz, who was killed in a police operation in Las Piñas City last June 17.
Diaz and Franz are considered level two drug traders, but Diaz was higher in the hierarchy of drug personalities. The two are allegedly under the umbrella of Peter Co, a drug lord detained in Muntinlupa, according to a police official who requested not to be named.
Taliño expects President Duterte to divulge the names of more public officials and law enforcers who are connected with the illegal drug trade.
He urged other officers who are protecting drug personalities to surrender.
“Yung mga tao na involved dito, sila ang mas nakakaalam sa kanilang sarili. Seguro, huwag na nilang antayin yong susunod na announcement ni President (Those who are involved in the illegal drug trade know themselves better. Perhaps they shouldn’t wait for the President’s next announcement),” said Taliño.
The police official relieved Supt. Romeo Santander, PO2 Michael Cortez and SPO1 Onel Nabua, both of Barili Police Station; PO3 Ryan Martus Kiamco, Cebu Provincial Police Office; SPO1 Jen dela Victoria, Cebu City Police Station 5; PO2 Jomar Ibañez, Lapu-Lapu City Police Office; and SPO3 Christie Cielo Tingad.
When asked about factions within the police organization that may have pushed some officers to discredit others, Taliño confirmed their presence, but he doubts it can affect the force.
“As far I am concerned, here in PRO 7, I said we should work as one family in our campaign against illegal drugs,” he said.
In a separate interview, Senior Insp. Diosdado Malazarte, the new San Fernando police chief, told reporters he has no background information on Sabalones and his controversial brother, Franz.
Malazarte said if he gets the chance, he plans to ask Sabalones what his next move will be after President Duterte’s announcement.
San Fernando Mayor Lakambini “Neneth” Reluya said she plans to seek guidance from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) after their vice mayor was tagged as a drug protector.
In a press briefing yesterday, Dela Rosa told reporters that Franz Sabalones surrendered last Sunday night, accompanied by the vice mayor.
“Gusto ko lang magbago (I want to change),” Franz told reporters in Camp Crame.
Dela Rosa described Franz as being on the same level as Jaguar Diaz, an alleged drug lord who operated in the Central Visayas until he got shot and killed in a police operation last June.
The police chief added that Franz was a former underling of Diaz who separated from him as he wanted to operate on his own.
Franz, the police chief said, got in touch with the Muntinlupa detainee Peter Co in order to get his drug supply directly from him and no longer from Diaz.
The PNP chief added that Franz confessed that after his connection with Co went off, he found a new supplier from the New Bilibid Prisons named David Sy.
Sy allegedly delivered 15 kilos of illegal drugs to Sabalones every month with the use of a high-end sport utility vehicle, which gets left near a mall for pick-up.
The police chief further said that Franz paid P200,000 to the police officials protecting his illegal activities.
Dela Rosa refused to identify Franz’s protector but said he already assigned him in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
The PNP said they will not release Franz as he will have to undergo further investigation. Third Anne Peralta/Sunnex/with a report from Rappler.com