2 fall in pre-Dinagyang drug bust


January 12, 2018

BEHIND BARS. Drug suspects Rodson Obapial Jr. (left) and John Michael Atadero, both residents of Barangay Desamparados, Jaro, Iloilo City, ponder their fate at the lockup cell of the Jaro police station following their arrest on Jan 11, 2018. A total of 18 suspected sachets of shabu were recovered from them. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN

ILOILO City – Two men were arrested in an antidrug operation of the police in Barangay Desamparados, Jaro district.

An undercover officer of the Police Regional Office 6’s Regional Drug Enforcement Unit (RDEU) bought a sachet of shabu for P2,000 from John Michael Atadero, 22, and Rodson Obapial Jr., 21.

The buy-bust operation was carried out yesterday around 2:30 a.m. The suspects, both residents of Barangay Desamparados, were detained at the Jaro police station.

Seventeen more sachets of shabu valued at P35,000 were recovered from the suspects.

According to RDEU chief Senior Inspector Kennith Bermejo, Atadero and Obapial belonged to the group of slain drug lord Richard Prevendido.

They stepped up their operation after Prevendido died in a shootout with policemen last Sept. 1, 2017, said Bermejo.

The RDEU chief described Obapial as a “high-value target” with a pending warrant of arrest for illegal drug possession issued by Judge Ma. Yolanda Panaguiton Gavino of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 34.

The case stemmed from a drug raid that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency conducted on Nov. 18, 2014 in Barangay Desamparados.

Bermejo said the RDEU would be conducting more antidrug operations in the days leading to the Dinagyang Festival highlights on Jan. 27 and 28.

Marking its 50th anniversary this month, the Dinagyang is expected to attract not only tourists but also drug traffickers.

There is a “big possibility” that drug syndicates will use new players the authorities are not familiar with, according to Bermejo.

While the highlights are still two weeks away, the city government has lined up a series of festival-related activities that also attract huge crowds such as the Miss Dinagyang beauty pageant on Jan. 20, a Philippine Basketball Association game on Jan. 13, Dinagyang marathon on Jan. 21, Department of Tourism Regional Trade Fair from Jan. 22 to 28, and Dinagyang job fair on Jan. 24, among others.

Bermejo said there could be big PDEA-police operations to keep the Dinagyang Festival drug-free.

Those in their drug watch lists – suspected pushers, runners, couriers – are under “tight watch”, he revealed without identifying them.

The most likely entry points of shabu are the seaports. Bermejo said the Maritime Command – the seaborne unit of the Philippine National Police – has been tasked to guard these ports in coordination with the Philippine Coast Guard./PN