Drugs worth P11.8 M seized in Butuan City

Erwin M. Mascarinas

BUTUAN CITY -- Around P11.8 million worth of illegal drugs were seized by police operatives here after a shootout with suspected drug pushers along the national highway in Libertad village, at around 8 p.m. Thursday evening, May 18.

One suspect was killed while two other suspects were wounded. A confidential agent of the police was also wounded.

Around nine medium sized cellophane of suspected Methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, weighing total of 1 kilogram and valued at around P11,800,000 by the Dangerous Drug Board were also seized inside a yellow Ford Escape where the body of the lone fatality was also found.

The dead suspected drug pusher was later identified as Reynaldo Labares Abordo, 36, married, from Purok 1, Barangay Sabangan, San Isidro, Davao del Norte.

Four caliber .45 pistols were also recovered from the different parts of the crime scene in Purok 6, Libertad village near the border of Bancasi village.

“We did not expect that the operation would turn out that big, since we heard that this group was from Agusan del Sur,” said one of the police officers from the City Drug Enforcement Unit (CDIU) who was involved in the operation but requested that his name be withheld for security reasons.

The police officer said information gathered from the interrogation of a suspect arrested earlier, identified as Johnny Villagonza Calawigan from Agusan del Sur, enabled police to identify the vehicle, a Ford Escape, of the suspected drug pushers.

“Those inside suddenly opened fire hitting our confidential agent in the left side just below his rib cage. In defense, we opened fire and a gun battle with the suspects erupted,” the police officer said.

While the police were busy fighting off the suspects in the Ford Escape, Calawigan, handcuffed inside the police vehicle, managed to get to the driver’s seat and attempted to escape.

A unit of the 23rd infantry battalion who was on their way to the scene of the gun battle from the nearby army camp in Barangay Bancasi was able to fire at the fleeing suspect on the commandeered vehicle.

“We then reinforced the scene and secured a portion of the road. We held back from further responding in the ongoing fire fight as it was hard to distinguish between the police operative and the suspects since the area was very dark and only lights coming from the responding police vehicles illuminated the scene,” said Captain Geraldo Magayaga, commanding officer of the SCAA company of the 23IB.

Police report suggests that the other suspects managed to escape from the scene but were eventually arrested during follow-up operations.

Calawigan was arrested in the vicinity of P-9 Barangay San Vicente and was brought to MJ Santos Hospital for medical treatment after incurring gunshot wounds in his body. Another suspect, Reneboy Maputol Guno was arrested in the vicinity of Purok 7A, Barangay Libertad and brought to the Agusan del Norte Provincial Hospital for treatment after incurring gunshot wound near the hips. Authorities are still looking for the fourth suspect who they think is wounded from the encounter.

Senior Superintendent Percival Augustus Placer, city director of the Butuan City Police Office, said police are investigating the incident further as they believe that the drugs might have been brought from Marawi City, Lanao del Norte and the suspects made a stop in Butuan City to sell and distribute as the city is celebrating its annual fiesta.