Newly installed Bohol Provincial Police Office (BPPO) director Col. Jonathan Cabal hit the ground running in his anti-drug campaign as police across the province seized P279,000 worth of shabu and arrested 33 alleged drug personalities in a three-day SEMPO (Synchronized Enhanced Managing Police Operations) operation which ended midnight on Thursday.
Cabal told the Chronicle on Thursday that the BPPO is “serious” in implementing in Bohol the national government’s anti-drug crusade, but downplayed the local police force’s most recent achievement as just part of their job.
“Yun ang standing order ng Presidente, our chief PNP, RD [regional director] and especially si gov, sinabi niya ‘we should not tolerate drugs.’ Yung mga boss natin ang talagang nagbibigay ng guidance sa atin so mandate naman ng police yan to go after illegal drugs,” said Cabal.
In a span of less than a month, Cabal who officially took over as BPPO chief on August 1 has launched two province-wide SEMPO operations and a raid at the Bohol District Jail (BDJ) in Tagbilaran City which has been tagged by authorities as a hotbed for illegal drug transactions.
The SEMPO which started on August 27 and ended on August 29 resulted in the arrest of 33 street-level and newly identified drug targets through 29 buy-bust operations, which also yielded 41 grams of shabu estimated to be worth P279,000 based on the value set by the Dangerous Drugs Board.
The previous SEMPO which was conducted from August 13 until August 16 resulted in the arrest of 31 drug suspects and the confiscation of shabu worth P627,500.
Cabal admitted that those collared were tagged as street-level drug personalities but said that the arrests would eventually lead to the identification of suspects in the higher levels of the drug supply chain.
“Mas makukuha natin yang mga bigger targets ‘pag nakukuha yang mga maliliit kasi yun ang source, dun sila kumukuha. We build up on those accomplishments, parang ladder type di natin makukuha yung sa taas agad,” said Cabal.
The new BPPO chief expressed optimism that police would eventually net higher-level drug personalities but did not make promises.
“Pag malalaki, they are well-entrenched mas magagaling magtago at talagang mas-experienced sila so we can’t simply pinpoint that’s why we have to build on our little accomplishments. From there, we will try to go after those big [suspects],” he added.
On August 18, the BPPO with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and National Bureau of Investigation seized cash amounting to a total of P200,000 and shabu worth P136,000 from multiple jail cells of the BDJ.
Police intelligence officers have repeatedly reported in the past that the BDJ is a hotbed of drug transactions as detainees allegedly serve as conduit between suppliers from outside Bohol and dealers in the province.
A week after the raid, Jail Chief Insp. Richard Tulabing was replaced as BDJ warden by Chief Inspector Reynan Torreon.
Authorities have not confirmed whether or not Tulabing’s reassignment was connected to the recent seizure of contraband from the facility. (R. Tutas)