SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union: A fierce rivalry between the Ortega and the Dumpit political clans here has become more intense as they blame each other on the bust of a multi-trillion peso shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) laboratory in Naguilian in 2008, that linked and later convicted a high-ranking police officer.
Gubernatorial candidates – Mario Ortega and Thomas “Butch” Dumpit III – long-time political opponents here, took up the illegal drug problem and debated on the issue after the province, known to be peaceful and orderly, was put into spotlight during the expose.
Dumpit, then Representative of the La Union’s 2nd District, initiated the holding of a congressional query after delivering a privilege speech.
During a four-man debate at the City Plaza witnessed by throngs of spectators recently, Dumpit cited that a drug syndicate could not enter into the province without “business permit” issued by local officials, particularly the incumbent governor, referring to Gov. Manoling Ortega.
Ortega rebutted saying it is the municipal government that issues a permit to operate a business.
Ortega particularly referred to the town of Naguilian, the hometown of the Dumpits where the shabu laboratory was located and added that it was even near the latter’s residence.
The drug laboratory was found in Barangay Upper Bimmotobot.
Ortega also questioned how the intelligence capabilities of Dumpit and his father – Tomas, Jr. – also a former representative and being both in the military, failed to track down the said drug factory.
Ortega urged the police to secure a drug statistics for Dumpit to know the truth. But Dumpit refused saying that during that time, there was no need of any statistics because drug pushing is a business, allegedly rampant in the streets and openly sold despite the local government’s anti-drug campaign programs.
“Drugs are in San Fernando, in Agoo, in Bauang,” he said.
Ortega said that drug is a problem even in bigger countries like the US. “The provincial government participated and partly responsible in the discovery of that shabu lab, I know because I was already in the provincial government then.”
In July 2008, the raiding team found burners, 24 units of LPG tanks, 52 pieces of cauldron, 80 sacks of caustic soda potassium hydrate, 79 barrels of iodine crystal, 15 barrels of red phosphorous, 65 boxes of ethanol, seven industrial jars, respirators and other items which were believed being used in the manufacture of methampethamine hydrochloride or shabu, estimated worth multi-trillion pesos.
The items were found in the house of Saturnino Tangalin in the village of Lioac, Naguilian.
Other materials believed used for shabu were also uncovered inside a cave in the eastern portion of the property of Tangalin.
The biggest shabu haul in Region I led to the conviction of former Pangasinan Police chief, Supt. Dionisio Borromeo and other policemen.