THE chief of the Cabanatuan City police was relieved from his post on Monday for his alleged connection to illegal drug dealers and supposed extortion by his men of arrested drug suspects.
Chief Supt. Aaron Aquino, head of the Central Luzon regional police office, ordered the relief of Supt. Joselito “Jeff” Villarosa who led Cabanatuan police for one year and 10 months.
A source told The Manila Times that the sacking of Villarosa had something to do with an ongoing investigation over his association with drug suppliers in the city.
The Nueva Ecija police director, Senior Supt. Manuel Cornel, told The Manila Times Villarosa was also being investigated over complaints that some members of the Cabanatuan police were extorting money from arrested drug suspects in exchange for not filing charges against them.
Cornel added that Villarosa also made a police officer under him execute an affidavit denying accusations that they had robbed the houses of drug suspects after failing to find evidence.
Only recently, Cabanatuan Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara scolded Villarosa during a flag-raising ceremony at city hall on complaints of several barangay (village) chairmen that Villarosa’s men had robbed the houses of some drug suspects.
Villarosa was transferred to the regional office and was replaced by Supt. Ponciano Zafra as officer-in-charge.
Prior to his relief, Villarosa witnessed the surrender of about 1,200 drug suspects, including a 77-year-old woman, two sons of a police officer, and minors aged 16 to 17 years old.
They were brought, amid protests by their families, by barangay chairmen to the Cabanatuan City police station to avoid being killed by alleged vigilantes running after suspected drug traders.
Cresencia Guan, 77, of Barangay M.S. Garcia, admitted she was ashamed for her who were tagged as drug pushers, and asked the police to give them another chance.
Two others were sons of retired Police Officer 3 Carmelita Miranda Bautista of the Cabanatuan police.
Others who turned themselves in were from Cabanatuan’s Muslim communities, which has 7,000 residents.
Idris Omar, their acknowledged leader, said they would not protest if any of the residents were killed.
“Anyway, we have already asked them to cooperate,” he said.
Meanwhile, other suspected drug users and pushers, including those from the lower-middle-class Barangay Kapitan Pepe, refused to turn themselves in, saying it would mean admission that they were indeed into the illicit narcotics business.
They also called the mass surrender a publicity gimmick of the police and some barangay officials to impress the mayor.