ONE MORE FALLS IN NARCO BUST: Barangay kagawad is latest casualty in ‘war on drugs’

EMERGENCY and rescue services personnel of Cabatuan, Iloilo rush Jonathan Baron of Jelicuon Montinola village after he was shot in a buy-bust operation on Sept 5, 2018. (Photo courtesy of RGMA dySI Super Radyo 1323)

THE bodies keep piling up.

The bloody war on drugs in Western Visayas claimed the life of another suspected drug peddler in Cabatuan, Iloilo on Sept 5, 2018.

Jonathan Baron, 56, a barangay kagawad (village council member) of Jelicuon Montinola, Cabatuan is the sixth fatality in the Police Regional Office (PRO)-6’s aggressive campaign against illegal drugs in a span of nine days.

The six suspected drug personalities died in five operations, four of which were spearheaded or joint operations of the Regional Drug Enforcement Unit (RDEU)-6, a PRO-6 unit dedicated to the anti-illegal drugs campaign.

In three previous RDEU operations, the slain suspects were armed with caliber .38 revolvers and hand grenades. But in Baron’s case, he allegedly wielded the smaller caliber .22 revolver and a hand grenade.

RDEU operatives and members of the Cabatuan Police Station stormed Baron’s house around 12:20 p.m. Wednesday.

Inspector Sullen Domingo, Cabatuan police chief, claimed that Baron sold a sachet of suspected shabu to a police poseur-buyer for P500.

But after he sensed that he was dealing with undercover cops, the suspect allegedly pulled a gun and fired thrice.

Domingo said the police poseur-buyer was quick to evade the bullets. He then fired back, hitting Baron twice on the chest.

Police recovered from the suspect eight sachets of suspected shabu, the revolver firearm loaded with ammunition, and a grenade.

Domingo said Baron was on drugs watch list of the Cabatuan and Calinog police stations. His area of operations were Central Iloilo towns.

Baron allegedly got his supply in Metro Manila via roll on-roll ships. He usually picked up his stash at the Iloilo Terminal Market.

Baron underwent the Department of Health’s drug rehabilitation program after surrendering through Oplan Tokhang in 2016.

But police learned that he kept selling drugs while in rehabilitation.

Despite his alleged involvement in drugs, Baron snatched a second term as village council member in the May 2018 elections.

Domingo admitted that it took them a while before they can pin down the suspect.

Baron was also a member of the notorious Prion Group, a suspected-crime group based in Cabatuan, Iloilo that was tagged in highway robbery, cattle rustling, and gun-for-hire activities.

But the group went inactive into after its leader Joel Prion was killed in 2006.

Joel’s brothers, including Lougen Prion, took over the group but they were also arrested and jailed.

Baron is the sixth fatality in PRO-6’s anti-drug campaign since August 2018 and the 64th since July 2016.

The five other fatalities are:

-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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