A sizeable volume of shabu was seized last Thursday from a guard at the Bohol District Jail which raised again suspicion that top jail authorities could be involved in the drug operations in the province.
BDJ warden Chief Insp. Felipe Montejo identified the suspect as Ernesto Vistal, a 46-year-old casual government employee and a resident of Dagohoy, Inabanga.
Vistal was reportedly caught by fellow jail guard JO2 Asterio Quiño at 3:20 p.m last Thursday attempting to bring in the two packs “bulto” of shabu valued at P300,000.00
“Vistal was being monitored by JO2 Quiño. I directed to really have this person monitored,” said the jail warden.
According to Montejo, there had already been suspicion on Vistal’s involvement in illegal drugs at the BDJ prior to the arrest.
“As I assumed office as warden, I already received feedback on his illegal activities, and now, we were really able to get something from him,” said Montejo who took over as BDJ warden in March.
According to Montejo, a thorough investigation will be conducted to identify detainees’ means of paying for illegal drugs peddled inside the detention facility.
He also noted that there had been suspicion that other jail employees were involved in the smuggling of contraband into the jail.
“We are monitoring others. It’s not just Vistal,” he said. “If there are others involved in illegal drugs, just stop. If you don’t, you will get caught. We are really aiming at ending this activity at the BDJ.”
Meanwhile, Vistal was placed under police custody and detained at a lock-up facility inside Camp Dagohoy in Tagbilaran City.
For his part, Gov. Edgar Chatto called for the swift resolution of Vistal’s case as he considered the incident an “affront” to the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
Gov. Chatto already directed acting Provincial Administrator John Mitchell Boiser to ensure the suspect’s dismissal from the service.
Vistal denied having peddled the prohibited drugs but admitted the contraband came from a certain “Dan” with no family name per information provided by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
The two big packs were allegedly intended for the two cells where certain inmates identified as “Toraya” and “Salumen.”
Per queries conducted by Vice-Gov Dionisio Balite on-site, “Toraya” bluntly denied that the drugs were intended for him. It was also learned that the drugs were for the birthday celebration of an inmate named “Albert.” But this still to be verified, Balite said.
The governor signed a Memorandum dated June 27, 2017, addressed to Montejo containing the name of Vistal among the 53 casual workers paid by the provincial government.
Chatto told Montejo, to wit “In view of this you are directed to see to it that the above-named employees (referring to 53 casual including Vistal) are hereby given their respective assignments and monitored in the performance of their task according to the performance target of your department/division/section please refer to the job order released for these workers. Charges of their wages shall be to the available funds of office of your department.”
Based on his personal data sheet, Vistal is a resident of Dagohoy, Inabanga, Bohol. His educational attainment includes elementary in barangay Lutao in 1982-83 and Saint Paul’s Academy in 1986-87. No year was indicated for his college education.
He has been with the BDJ since February 1, 2000, until the day he was caught and he received a salary of Php7,000/month, his personal data showed.
It will be recalled PDEA nabbed a certain Almar Arbilera, 19, and Joneses Polison, 27 for allegedly peddling “shabu” in a buy-bust operation.
PDEA said that Arbilera, who handed over shabu valued P500 to an undercover agent, is an employee of the emergency response team called Telephone And Radio System integrated Emergency Response (TARSIER) of the provincial government.