ILOILO CITY: The Western Visayas regional police office declared “mission accomplished” after operatives killed the region’s top drug trafficker, Richard “Buang” Prevendido, and son Jason on Friday night.
Richard Prevendido, leader of the “Prevendido Drug Group,” had a P1.1-million bounty on his head, authorities said.
The arresting team was composed of law enforcers from the Iloilo Police Provincial Office, Iloilo City Police Office and the regional police intelligence division.
Chief Supt. Cesar Hawthorne Binag, the Western Visayas police director, said the operation against Prevendido was a “product of our very good intelligence, the support of the community through the information they provided, and the bounty.”
“This should serve as a warning doon sa mga gumagawa pa ng kalokohan. Hindi namin sila titigilan (This should serve as a warning to the criminals. We will not stop),” Binag said in a news conference.
Senior Supt. Marlon Tayaba, the provincial police chief, said Prevendido had no intention to surrender and was preparing to escape with his son. “They were ready as the team was entering,” he said.
Tayaba said a confidential informant gave police a tip on the exact location of Prevendido at 4 p.m. on September 1.
A police report said the Prevendidos fired several shots at the authorities. Policemen retaliated, killing Richard and Jason.
Police recovered an AK-47 assault rifle, two .45 caliber handguns, bladed weapons, and sachets of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu. Also found were four laptops and a crossbow.
Binag has revealed the regional police’s “next high-value target,” Ernesto “Erning” Bolivar, said to be a leader of Prevendido’s sub-group.
Successor of Odicta
Prevendido had a pending criminal case for illegal possession of drugs, in violation of Section 11 of Republic Act 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Police said the Prevendido Group was the top drug syndicate in Western Visayas. With the death of the alleged top drug lord Melvin Odicta, Prevendido took his place, officials said.
Prevendido’s death came just days after President Rodrigo Duterte announced the reassignment of Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido to Iloilo City from Ozamiz City, where his team killed the mayor and suspected drug lord Reynaldo Parojinog Sr. and 15 others on July 30. Espenido was also part of the team that killed Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. in November last year.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) later on Saturday announced that Espenido would no longer be transferred to Iloilo
“The police had been searching for Richard Prevendido for a very long time now. He didn’t surrender. His killing must be attributed to the hard work of the Iloilo Provincial Police,” PNP Chief Ronald de la Rosa said in a radio interview.
Malacañang on Saturday said the death of Western Visayas’ “most wanted drug personality” showed the “enormous risk” that policemen face in the administration’s war against illegal drugs.
“Iloilo City’s reportedly most wanted drug personality, Richard Prevendido, was neutralized in a firefight last Friday evening. The incident occurred when the suspect, head of the Prevendido Group, one of the two major drug groups in Iloilo, resisted arrest,” Abella said in a statement.
“The incident shows the enormous risk our police officers face each time warrants are implemented against high-value targets,” he added.
Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who had been tagged by the President as a drug protector, on Saturday commended the police for killing Prevendido.
Mabilog ordered the release of a P500,000 reward.
“This legitimate police operation is proof that our local law enforcers are committed to bring order and justice in Western Visayas, and Iloilo City in particular,” he said.
“We hope that with Prevendido gone, the illegal drug problem will be entirely minimized if not eliminated. But this will not mean we will be complacent. The Iloilo City Government together with the PNP and the PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) will continue with the war on illegal drugs, and will not stop until the battle is won,” he added.
Mabilog said “Prevendido’s death is an exclamation point that will put an end to the era of illegal drugs in Iloilo City.”
with RJ CARBONELL AND PNA