A POLICE official described Franz Sabalones, an alleged drug lord in Central Visayas, as “the best” source of information they’ve spoken to among the drug personalities who have so far turned up in Camp Crame.
Sabalones provided vital information on drug operations in the region, as well as good leads police investigators can track down, said Chief Superintendent Roel Obusan, director of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
As this developed, a local official confirmed that Sabalones used to work as a traffic enforcer of the Cebu City Traffic Operations and Management Office (Citom), which he joined in 2001.
He was tasked to apprehend those who violated the City’s rules against jaywalking, said lawyer Rafael Christopher Yap, acting department head of the Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO).
Sabalones, accompanied by his brother, surrendered to Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa last Monday morning, although he has no pending cases in court. He was said to be on the same level as suspected drug lord Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz, who was shot dead in a police operation last June 17.
“He is the best that we got (last Monday). Napakarami niyang binibigay. Napakaraming dapat sundan kaya halos malito ‘yung ating mga investigators (He gave us so much information. We have so much to check, our investigators were nearly overwhelmed). That’s why I assigned so many tasks to follow on the leads given by Sabalones. Napakaganda ‘yung mga leads (These are such good leads) and it will be a fatal blow to the drug operations (in Central Visayas),” Obusan said.
For his part, Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Chief Supt. Noli Taliño warned Sabalones to fulfill his promise that he will stop all his illegal drug activities. Taliño said that the police will not stop monitoring the suspected drug lord, who is a brother of San Fernando Vice Mayor Fralz “BB” Sabalones.
Taliño said it is possible that Franz would return to illegal drugs because his group remains intact.
“We have identified some of them. In fact, some of them have died. Yung iba nandiyan pa (Some of them are still there), under police operation sila pag hindi mag surrender (The police will pursue them if they don’t surrender),” Taliño told reporters.
Intelligence operatives of PRO 7 are also monitoring the group of Diaz, because there is a possibility that someone from the group would replace him.
Taliño also said that the police will investigate the three police officials who allegedly received P200,000 per week from Franz Sabalones.
Sabalones has reportedly given Dela Rosa these officers’ names.
“Although he identified those personalities, we have to get solid proof for a better case that we will file. It’s only a statement for now. We have to pursue that,” Obusan said.
He said that while no case will be filed against Franz for now, he will be asked to stay with the police instead of going home “for the reason na marami pa kaming gustong malaman sa kanya (we want to find out more information from him). Also, according to him, he feels safer with the police. So be it,” Obusan said.
“He is at liberty as of now pero sa kanya mismo parang of his own volition nandito s’ya sa opisina,” said Obusan.
Aside from Sabalones, three local chief executives who showed up in Camp Crame have provided vital information for the ongoing campaign against illegal drugs, the official said.
Obusan identified two of the three mayors as Maguing, Lanao del Sur Mayor Mamaulan Abinal Mulok and Marantao, Lanao del Sur former mayor Mohammad Ali Abu Abenal.
Mulok and Abenal showed up at Camp Crame last Friday, two days before President Duterte revealed the names of alleged drug trade protectors.
Aside from their admission that they were once involved in the illegal drug trade from 2000 to 2002 in Caloocan, Quiapo and Cavite, Obusan said these two individuals also provided other information.
At least 30 local chief executives voluntarily submitted themselves for an investigation after their names were included in Duterte’s list.
“Most of the mayors and all others subjected to investigation give general denials on their participation in the proliferation of drugs,” the police official said.
Obusan said the local government officials were allowed to go home after the PNP collected their affidavits.
“If we find any strong evidence against them, then, before filing the complaint, we will be calling for them,” said Obusan.
One of Franz’s former colleagues in Citom, who asked not to be named in this story, said they had no problem working with him before.
“Wa man mi problema niya, kadungan-dungan mi ug sud pero dugay na sad to. Wa na mi update niya kay nikalit ra man sad to siya kawala (He wasn’t a problem to work with. We joined Citom at the same time, but that was long ago. We lost touch after he suddenly left),” the enforcer told Sun.Star Cebu.
The enforcer added that he did not expected Franz to be named among the top illegal drug personalities in the region.
A City Hall source who also requested not to be named said that Sabalones was not able to continue working with Citom after his contract with the City Government was not renewed.
His alleged involvement in illegal drugs was reportedly the reason his contract did not get renewed.
“I was told that during that time, he was just starting his illegal drug trade,” the source said. TAM/Sunnex