ILOILO City – The Police Regional Office 6’s (PRO-6) No. 1 drug suspect, Ernesto “Erning” Bolivar of Pototan, Iloilo, have been spotted several times in parts of Western Visayas and Metro Manila but has never been caught. Who could be protecting him?
Bolivar, who became the prime target of the PRO-6 after the death of drug lord Richard “Buang” Prevendido in September 2017, has lots of money to buy protection from policemen and even businessmen, sources told Panay News.
PRO-6 spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Joem Malong said they were verifying reports about the alleged protectors of Bolivar.
The provincial government of Iloilo is dangling a P500,000 monetary reward to whoever could give information leading to the arrest of Bolivar, 41, of Barangay Guinacas, Pototan.
Bolivar was believed to be a minion of slain drug lord Prevendido and stepped up drug trafficking activities after his boss died in a shootout with policemen on Sept. 1, 2017.
Sources also said Bolivar has tapped the services of “new players” in his drug trafficking operation to avoid detection.
But according to Police Captain Marc Dado of the Regional Drug Enforcement Unit (RDEU), “Hindi na gaano kalakas ang bentahan nila kasi alam nila na may nagmo-monitor ng kanilang movements. Maliit lang ang benta nila.”
Bolivar has a pending arrest warrant for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. He was charged although he managed to escape from policemen trying to entrap him in a buy-bust operation at his house in Barangay Guinacas on No. 9, 2016.
The Bolivar drug group operates mainly in central and northern Iloilo province and parts of nearby Capiz.
The Bolivar group used to be a subgroup of the Prevendido drug group, according to the RDEU.
But it is not only into illegal drugs but also into robbery and gun-for-hire services.
Despite its relentless campaign against illegal drug personalities since July 2016, the PRO-6 still has 643 remaining high-value targets, including Bolivar.
They also included barangay officials and members of the Philippine National Police, according to Brigadier General John Bulalacao, regional police director.
These personalities are under surveillance and various police units have been tasked to get them, he added.
“Expect our operations to be bloody if they fight back,” said Bulalacao.
Thus the better option for these high-value targets is to surrender peacefully, he stressed.
He cited one case – the April 28, 2019 operation in Estrella Subdivision, Barangay 6, Victorias, City, Negros Occidental that led to the death of suspected drug lord Leoner Jalandoon.
The Jalandoon drug group covered Negros and Panay islands.
Jalandoon sold P27,000 worth of shabu to a police poseur-buyer and fought back when he was about to be arrested, according to Bulalacao.
The police afterwards recovered more shabu valued at P2.7 million.
“I’m warning drug personalities. You will suffer the same fate as Jalandoon’s should you fight back,” said Bulalacao.
According to the police general, drug personalities appear fearless perhaps because “drug transactions are lucrative” and help them “sustain their lifestyle.”/PN