Among the drug suspects who yiel­ded to the Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Director General Ronald de la Rosa on Monday, police consider Franz Sabalones as their biggest catch that day.
Chief Supt Roel Obusan, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group director, told reporters in a chance interview in Camp Crame in Quezon City that Sabalones gave out a lot of valuable information.
“He is the best that we got yesterday [Monday]. He gave us a lot of information,” Obusan said in Filipino on Tuesday.
While his name was not included in the drug list bared on Sunday by President Rodrigo Duterte, Sabalones is considered the biggest drug lord in Central Visayas after the death of his former boss, drug kingpin Jeffrey ‘Jaguar’ Diaz.
About 50 out of the 163 mentioned on the Duterte list that named mayors, lawmakers, judges and members of the PNP as drug suspects turned up at the police main headquarters in compliance with the President’s directive.
Obusan said their investigators were overwhelmed by the valuable information and good leads that Sabalones gave, which he described as a fatal blow to drug operations in his turf.
The investigation of Sabalones lasted for more than 10 hours during which he also revealed names of policemen protecting illegal drugs in his area.
On Monday, the PNP chief said Sabalones confessed that he had been giving P200,000 “weekly payola” to a police colonel in Cebu whom the police director declined to identify.
The police colonel, de la Rosa added, has been transferred to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Regional Police Office.
De la Rosa also revealed to the members of the media on Monday that Sabalones was Diaz’s underling who later broke away from the drug kingpin’s group, directly dealing with Peter Co, a Chinese drug lord detained at the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila).
In a related development, a Filipino-Chinese businessman named by the police as the leader of Ong-Bascos Gang operating in the eastern part of Pangasinan was arrested at dawn on Tuesday.
Senior Supt Ronald Oliver-Lee, police provincial director, identified the suspect as Alexander “Alex” Ong, 39, of Barangay San Leon in Umingan town who was arrested in a buy-bust in Barangay Kita-Kita at about 3am.
One of Ong’s runners — Dondon Umingan, 25, was instrumental in the arrest.
Lee said Ong is a known pusher in the 5th and 6th districts of Pangasinan.
Senior Insp Amando Natividad Jr, Balungao police chief, said Ong had just deli­vered about 50 packs of shabu in Urdaneta City and the towns of Umingan, Asingan, Tayug, Santa Maria, Rosales and Asingan when he agreed to transact with a poseur buyer.
One plastic sachet of shabu was recovered from him with the P500 marked money.
Natividad said Umingan was earlier arrested in buy-bust in Barangay Rajal, about three hours before Ong was collared.
The drug runner said they had just delivered the drugs to their distributors in various towns.
Umingan admitted being Ong’s courier in Balungao and confirmed that his boss is the supplier of shabu in the eastern part of Pangasinan.
Ong has also been identified by pushers and users as their source of shabu.
Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Emilio Matro recommended no bail for Ong during the inquest.
Meanwhile, the No 3 drug pusher in Santa Barbara town and a 16-year-old out-of-school youth were also nabbed on Tuesday.
The arrested suspects were identified as Denver Cabanayan, 16, of Barangay San Alejandro, Santa Maria town, and Rockey Barte of Barangay Tebag in Santa Barbara.
Chief Insp Rex Infante, Santa Barbara police chief, collared Barte as he handed shabu to a poseur buyer in Barangay Menien West.
Confiscated from him were six sachets of shabu and P300 marked money.
Barte is reportedly a member of a drug syndicate in Metro Manila.