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Drug Bust Reveals Need For SBMA, PNP Cooperation

by Vic V. Vizcocho, Jr.

THE arrest of three (3) drug pushers and the seizure of close to a million peso worth of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu within the Subic Bay Freeport over the weekend has brought to fore the need for a more clear cut and thorough cooperation between the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Amid the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to the Wuhan Virus (Covid19) Pandemic, SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma directed SBMA law enforcers to intensify operations against criminality after the successful two-day joint operation by the Olongapo City PNP and the SBMA Law Enforcement Department (LED).

According to a report from the SBMA LED, law enforcers first apprehended Reygine Cuaresma, 27 years old and a security guard working for a private firm in the Subic Bay Freeport, and Laverne Gabriel y Echalar, a 39-year old resident of Dinalupihan, Bataan who worked as a trailer driver for a trucking firm here.

The two were arrested on Wednesday, May 6, after picking up a poseur-buyer at the Subic Gateway Park. Police said the two yielded several plastic sachets containing suspected shabu and, upon investigation, pointed to Elmer Padel Sr. y Lila as their supplier.

Padel, a 42-year old resident of Subic, Zambales and an on-call dock worker here, was arrested the following day, May 7, after he agreed to meet with Cuaresma and Gabriel at a gasoline station near the Tipo Gate to receive “remittance” from drug sales.

Padel, in turn, pointed to two other suspects as sources of the illegal drugs, but police said subsequent operations against them turned out negative.

Eisma congratulated the operatives for the arrest of the three suspects, but also urged them to step up the fight against criminals.

PCol. Benjamin De Leon Sembrano, Olongapo City Police Office (OCPO) Chief, told Subic Bay News (SBN) that drug pushers are taking advantage of the PNP’s absence in the Freeport, as the SBMA LED has the responsibility and task of the Zone’s security and safety.

“Nakaka-alarma, sa loob operations nila, nakatago sa SBFZ (Subic Bay Freeport Zone), walang PNP presence sa loob at hindi capable ang SBMA to detect such nefarious activities,” Col. Sembrano said, “good, magagaling police natin at Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU), napakagat natin sila sa Buy Bust Operations at sa loob mismo napili ng mga drug dealers magbenta dahil mas nakakagalaw sila sa loob.”

Sembrano said tactical interrogation revealed that truck drivers and workers of Freeport Zone companies are the clients of the drug dealers.

SBMA LED. Olongapo City Police Chief PCol. Benjamin de Leon Sembrano underscores the need for a more clear cut and thorough cooperation between the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to beef up the SBMA LED’s lack of capability to detect “nefarious activities” such as drug dealing inside the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ) where the PNP has no presence. Subic Bay News photo by Vic V. Vizcocho, Jr.

“We should strengthen and widen police operations in the Freeport to deter illegal activities during the ECQ because some culprits may be emboldened to commit crimes now that they see there are only a few people around,” Eisma said.

“We should prove these criminals wrong,” Eisma said. “You’ve done a good job getting the pushers, so I say go after the users too, because pushers won’t be selling illegal drugs when there is no demand for the stuff,” she added.

Eisma also stressed that the SBMA “is solidly behind the President’s war against illegal drugs.”

At the same time, the SBMA chief noted that despite ECQ constraints that minimized the operations of the Subic agency to essential services, “security and law enforcement units continue to be fully operational.”

“Patrols are, in fact, more frequent these days because there are a lot of businesses that have temporarily closed their facilities and the SBMA is looking after these, too,” Eisma pointed out.

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