Bohol anti-crime terrain stabilizes as the armed wing of the complicated illegal drugs network further crumbled along with what the police described as a major stir onto the hornetâ€™s nest in Getafe.
Police operations hurdling limiting factors such as resources, especially in logistics, managed to neutralize high-profile elements of the illegal drugs-loose firearms syndicate. But the pronouncements of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte brought in optimism the Bohol police units can sustain the momentum with the assurance of support from the national administration.
Police Provincial Director, Senior Supt. Dennis Agustin, yesterday told The Chronicle the elimination of â€œbig-timeâ€ drug suspect Rowen â€œYawaâ€ Secretaria will have big impact on the drug problem in Bohol as the latter had served as major financier in drug trafficking in Bohol and Cebu.
Agustin said Secretaria was one of the big illegal drugs distributors in Bohol and Cebu and operating mainly in the second district, that later spilled over to some parts of first and third districts.
Secretariaâ€™s network had initially weakened after Bohol police teams neutralized ahead Elly Job Cabahug, also known as â€œTatayâ€, on January 16 in a shootout at a beach house along sitio Teroy in Barangay Jagoliao—also in Getafe.
According to Agustin, Cabahug led the armed component of Secretariaâ€™s network, in charge of the collection of proceeds from the sale of illegal drugs and in protecting drug personalities.
Cabahug allegedly led a band of contract killers operating in Bohol and nearby provinces and had been tagged in at least 17 incidents of murder.
Secretariaâ€™s gang started as small-time drug peddlers and flourished in four years of operation until they became financiers of the illegal drugs trade.
On the other hand, the remnants of neutralized drug ring leaders might clash with each other in the coming days.
Agustin confirmed that the police had tracked down other drug rings, the smaller competitors of Secretariaâ€™s group.
The groups might not just be competing in the illegal drugs business, but also in the loose firearms business that they would be killing each other, according to Agustin.
The fall of other drug rings operating in Bohol looms, Agustin warned, as the intelligence gathering could intensify with the support assured by the incoming administration of Duterte.
Agustin expressed optimism that the police will get further public support in the relentless drive against the complex network of illegal drugs and loose firearms in Bohol as they had already shown outputs.
With Duterteâ€™s pronouncements, the Bohol Police Provincial Office (BPPO) could go more aggressive in neutralizing the other drug rings.
Meanwhile, Agustin admitted there might have been some lapses on the part of the recently relieved Getafe chief of police, Senior Insp. Marcelino Mejias, in the failure to prevent Secretariaâ€™s network from flourishing, but it was more of operational lapses as the local police had limited logistics.
Moreover, Banacon is just too proximal to Cebu that it became easy for the drug rings to outsmart the law enforcers whose operations had often been hampered by limited resources.
Mejias had also served the Getafe Municipal Police Station within the allowed stint, and is already due for another assignment, Agustin explained.
He further said that the same problem is not only in Getafe, but also on island barangays in other towns.
Agustin said he heard Mejias is now temporarily reporting to the Police Regional Office (PRO)-7 in Cebu and his relief from Getafe Police Station is also beneficial in order to erase any doubt.
The Bohol police teams had already neutralized a number of high-profile drug personalities and key players of the armed components of drug rings, Agustin added.
The relentless campaign against illegal drugs had significantly reduced the magnitude of the drug menace in the province, since most of those who had served sentence for drug cases no longer returned to business when they came out of jail.
The successive operations against illegal drugs being reported in the media had also discouraged the others that they had stopped their illegal activities already.
Secretaria had been tagged as Cebuâ€™s Top 3 drug lord, who could dispense P60-million worth of shabu per week.
The composite team of RAIDSOTG-7 led by PSI Henrix Bancoleta, Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB-7), and the Provincial Intelligence Branch of Cebu Police Provincial Office (CPPO) swooped down Secretariaâ€™s private resort in Banacon Island in Getafe at around 4:30 a.m. on May 28 to serve the warrant of arrest issued by Presiding Judge Irma Zita Masamayor of the Regional Trial Court Branch 52 in Talibon.
The warrant of arrest was for Secretariaâ€™s drug case for violation of section 11 under Article II of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 docketed as Criminal Case No. 13-2978.
Secretaria was killed along with two other men later identified as Dario Torremocha and John Jason Montes.
The 22-year-old Montes hailed from barangay Ermita, Cebu City.
Instead of yielding himself to the Cebu police team, Secretaria and his men allegedly opened fire at the police team.
This prompted the cops to fire back to subdue Secretaria and company.
One of the three men who were with Secretaria, one Ricardo Lamotos Ostolano—a 26-year-old jobless resident of Calituban Island in Talibon—survived though wounded from the shootout.
Secretaria, Torremocha and Montes were dead on arrival at Garcia Memorial Hospital in Talibon, while the wounded Ostolano was transferred to Governor Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital for further medical attention and treatment.
Recovered from the crime scene were one KG-9, one caliber 45 pistol and two caliber .38 revolvers.
Police Supt. Ricky Delelis, information officer of the Bohol Provincial Police Office, said intelligence officers had been tracking down Secretaria for years already.
He said the police had been an elusive target, and had, in fact, successfully evaded authorities when an operation against him was supposedly conducted last year.
YawaÂ had been an elusive target, and had, in fact, successfully evaded authorities when an operation against him was supposedly conducted last year, according to Delelis.
Secretaria had been in the illegal drugs trade in Lapu-lapu City, Cebu for several years already that his name had been in the list of big-time drug personalities in Cebu and Bohol.
For his part, Mejias explained that Secretariat was really elusive, since the latter would seldom stay long on Banacon Island.
It gave the local police a hard time calculating on the moves of Secretaria, according to Mejias.
Around 12 hours after the shootout that killed Secretariat and two of three suspected cohorts, a carpenter working for Secretaria and his wife were found dead with gunshot wounds in a cemetery on Banacon Island.
The victims were identified as Christopher Hermosara Dejacto, 39, and his wife, Ma. Theresa CaÃ±ete Dejacto, both residents of barangay Ermita in Cebu City, the same place where Secretaria resided.
PO3 Roel Lagura, assistant police investigator of the Getafe Police Station, said they received a report from a concerned citizen at around Â 4:20 p.m. on May 28 about two bodies found inside a cemetery on the island-village.
Scene of the crime operatives recovered three empty shells of .45 caliber ammunitions and five empty shells of still unknown caliber.
Lagura said the coupleâ€™s child, CJ Christopher, a Grade 8 student, told the police that he last saw his parents at 2 p.m. that day.
The couple and their four children had lived on the island village for almost two months yet.
Investigators look into two angles in the crime—one is personal grudge against the couple, and the other is the possibility that persons close to Secretaria might have vented ire on the couple on suspicion that they were the ones who reported his activities to the police.
The RPSB-7 established a permanent police outpost on Banacon Island to secure the residents and to hunt down Secretariaâ€™s two brothers who might be behind the murder of Dejacto couple in the belief that the latter provided information to the police that led to the May 28 operation.
Secretariaâ€™s brothers have also been tagged by the police as high-level drug pushers.