Freeman Region

Barangay councilman is 6th man killed in WV's drug war

Jennifer P. Rendon - The Freeman

ILOILO CITY, Philippines — Another suspected drug personality was killed during a police anti-drugs operation in Cabatuan town of Iloilo last September 5, this time the fatality was a barangay councilman.

Jonathan Baron, 56, councilman of Jelicuon Montinola village, was the 6th fatality in Police Regional Office-6’s campaign against illegal drugs in a span of nine days. The police tagged him as a high value target.

Operatives of the Regional Drug Enforcement Unit-6 (RDEU-6), with members of the Cabatuan Police Station, stormed Baron’s house around 12:20 p.m.

Inspector Sullen Domingo, Cabatuan Police chief, said Baron first sold to a police poseur buyer a sachet of shabu for P500. But after realizing that he was dealing with undercover police agents, the suspect allegedly pulled a gun and fired thrice.

Domingo said that police poseur buyer was quick to sidestep and avoid getting hit. He then fired back and hit Baron on his chest. Police recovered eight sachets of shabu, firearm loaded with ammunition, and a grenade from the suspect’s possession.

Domingo said Baron was on the watchlist of drug personalities of the Cabatuan and Calinog police stations. Baron’s area of operations were the towns of central Iloilo towns. He allegedly got his supply from Metro Manila, transported via ro-ro vessel, and picked at the Iloilo Terminal Market.

In 2016, Baron surrendered through Oplan Tokhang and, when he underwent a drug rehabilitation program of the Department of Health, he was however monitored to still be involved in drug peddling.

Despite his alleged drug involvement, the suspect won a second term as village councilman in the recent elections. Domingo admitted that it took the police more time before finally cornering the suspect.

Baron was a remnant of the notorious Prion Group, a crime organization based in Cabatuan, Iloilo that was into highway robbery, cattle rustling, and gun-for-hire activities. It went inactive after its leader, Joel Prion, was killed in 2006. Joel’s brothers took over but they were jailed or arrested.

Since August, Baron was the sixth fatality in PRO-6’s drug war, and the 64th killed in the PRO-6 anti-drug campaign since July 2016.

On Aug. 27, suspected drug pusher Alex Blanca Sr., 52, was killed in a buy bust operation at his house in Barangay Boulevard of Molo district, Iloilo City. Blanca was also armed with a gun and an M26A1 hand grenade at the time.

Two days later, a suspected member of the Prevendido Drug Group died in an anti-narcotics operation in Pavia, Iloilo. Considered a high-value target of Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO), Richard Montefrio Gregori, 40, of Barangay Ungka 2 in Pavia, Iloilo was gunned down in a buy-bust operation.

The next incident happened 9:45 p.m. of September 2 that resulted in the death of Gabriel Poblacion at Zone 3, Barangay Tacas, Jaro distric, Iloilo City.

The other operations carried out by joint elements of RDEU-6, Antique Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit, and San Jose Police Station resulted in the death of two suspected drug peddlers.

They were identified as Jennifer Gobatanga, 32, and his cousin, Gayrell Gobatanga, 38, both residents of Zone 3, Barangay Ticud, La Paz, Iloilo City. They were killed after selling suspected shabu with poster buyers around 4:45 in the morning of Monday, September 3, at Barangay San Pedro, San Jose town, Antique. (FREEMAN)


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