In a sleepy fishing village where poverty is rife, having one of the biggest drug lords in the region as a neighbor had perks for some residents.
As sources of income remained scarce, the only recourse for some residents of Barangay Banacon in Getafe was to accept aid from neighbor and alleged Central Visayas drug lord Rowen â€œYawaâ€ Secretaria.
When regional police gunned down Secretaria in a shootout during an anti-drugs operation in May this year, way of life in the island-village was alteredÂ according to the villageâ€™s barangay captain, Rodrigo Ismael.
While others celebrated the death of a notorious criminal, other residents of Banacon were dismayed byÂ the death of a benefactor.
Before his death, Secretaria provided electricity in the area which, according to residents, won him the loyalty of most people living in the island despite the knowledge of his illegal activities.
Secretaria also extended financial aid and offered food to the people of Banacon according to residents.
However, Ismael said that the arrangementÂ caused some residents to be idle and overly dependent on the alleged drug lord.
Almost all families in the island depend on income from fishing but the presence of Secretaria and illegal drug activities in the island changed that, he said.
After the death of Secretaria, most residents have started to return to their normal lives and go back to fishing.
Getafe Mayor Casey Shawn Camacho said that the local government unit will be providing livelihood to drug personalities in the town who surrendered to authorities, and those from Banacon will be among the municipalityâ€™s priorities.
Second District Congressman Erico Aristotle Aumentado is also planning to implement livelihood initiatives in cooperation with the Department of Labor and Employment to help provide legitimate sources of income to Banacon residents.
Aumentado said that he will be prioritizing the project which will include the provision of adequate power supply to the island during his current term as legislator.
Of the 800 drug pushers and users in Getafe who surrendered, more than 100 are from the island-barangay. Camacho said that 25 of the more than 100 drug personalities from Banacon are drug pushers.
Even after the death of Secretaria, police continue to monitor the barangay as reports indicate that there are residents who are still involved in illegal drug activities. (with reports from Rey Tutas)