NINE DAYS, SEVEN BODIES: Kapitan is latest fatality in anti-drug campaign

REX LAGURA, 55, village chief of Aldeguer in Sara, Iloilo is the seventh casualty in the series of anti-drug operations in Western Visayas in more than a week. (Photo from RMN.ph)

DO Western Visayas police now have a penchant for killing suspected drug peddler or was it a case of “nanlaban” (put up a fight) again?

This question bugs the public as another suspected drug personality was killed in yet another police anti-narcotics operation in Iloilo late evening of Sept. 5, 2018.

The latest fatality is 55-year old Rex Lagura, barangay captain of Aldeguer village, Sara, Iloilo.

Lagura’s 50-year old wife Anita was physically unscathed but she was arrested for allegedly conspiring with her husband.

Joint elements of the Iloilo Police Provincial Office – Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit (IPPO-PDEU) and Sara Police Station conducted the operation 11 p.m. Wednesday, barely 11 hours after a barangay kagawad was also killed in another police buy-bust operation in Cabatuan town.

Senior Inspector Asencion Ortizo, Sara police chief, said a police poseur-buyer bought a sachet of shabu from Lagura.

Anita allegedly handed the shabu while Lagura received the money outside their house.

As the police poseur-buyer was about to arrest him, Ortizo said the suspect allegedly ran inside the house, took his caliber .357 revolver and allegedly shot the undercover police.

But just like the six previous operations, the officer evaded the bullet.

The poseur-buyer and back-up police officers retaliated and hit Lagura.

Ortizo said the suspect sustained six gunshot injuries on the head, shoulder, and chest. He was rushed to Sara District Hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.

Anita was subsequently arrested.

The couple has four children but none of them was reportedly living with the suspects, Ortizo said.

Recovered from the Lagura residence were 22 sachets of suspected shabu with a street value of P30,000; a caliber .357 revolver, and P2,900 cash including the marked money.

Ortizo, who assumed as Sara police chief on July 28, 2018, said he was unsure if Lagura was subjected to Oplan Tokhang or surrendered to authorities on suspicions that he sold drugs.

“But since I took over, we received persistent reports that he was into the illegal drugs trade,” he claimed.

The suspect allegedly sold drugs on an on-and-off basis depending on the availability of supply, Ortizo added.

Lagura allegedly got his supply from the cities of Bacolod, Iloilo, or Roxas.

Ortizo said he heard that the slain suspect had been subjected to a firearms raid but he does not know that happened to the case.

Lagura is now the seventh casualty in the police’s anti-drug campaign in Western Visayas since August 2018 and the 65th since July 2016.

The six other fatalities are:

  • Jonathan Baron, 56, a barangay kagawad (village council member) of Jelicuon Montinola, Cabatuan on Sept 5, 2018;
  • Alex Blanca Sr on Aug 27, at Barangay Boulevard, Molo, Iloilo City;
  • Richard Montefrio Gregori on Aug 29 at Barangay Ungka 2, Pavia, Iloilo;
  • Gabriel Poblacion on Sept 2 at Zone 3, Barangay Tacas, Jaro, Iloilo City;
  • Jennifer Gobatanga, 32, and his cousin, Gayrell Gobatanga, 38, both natives of La Paz, Iloilo City, on Sept 3 at Barangay San Pedro in San Jose, Antique.

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