Senator ‘Bato’ needed in continuing war on drugs

THE death of a brave Antipolo City policeman at the hands of a heavily-armed drug trafficker in Antipolo City last Tuesday for me is reason enough why Filipinos need to elect senators who will help pursue the government’s war on drugs, one of them former PNP chief, now retired General Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa.

As voters choose 12 new members of the Philippine Senate two weeks from now, a new Senator like ‘Bato’ dela Rosa is  needed to help come up with new legislations that would address the endless problem on illegal drug trafficking and abuse in the country including the unabated smuggling of cocaine and shabu in our ports and our vast unguarded sea lanes.

Right now, ‘Bato’ seems to be a sure winner in the May 13 polls—he being 5th to 6th in a latest poll made by a popular survey firm in the country but he doesn’t have to be complacent in pursuing his bid to become a Senator of the Republic that will help President Duterte’s war on drugs.

‘Bato’ like Bong Go and Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos to my mind would bring fresh ideas to the Senate which must be a very good partner of the Commander-in-Chief in fighting drugs which have destroyed the lives of tens of thousands of Filipinos, rich and poor alike.

We all need new senators who will make their strong presence felt in the campaign against drugs especially shabu and now the party drugs like Ecstasy which has caused misery to a big number of students and young professionals including lawyers, doctors and scions of rich families, government officials and politicians included.

This week, my family and I offered prayers for the soul of Patrolman Ariel Dapyawen of the Antipolo City Police Station who was shot by a shotgun-wielding wanted criminal in the chest and died due to massive loss of blood. That’s what happens when a criminal shoots you with a 12-gauge shotgun with dozens of pellets penetrating your body instantly and piercing your vital organs.

I join the PNP headed by Gen. Oscar Albayalde in mourning the untimely death of Pat. Dapyawen, a family breadwinner and the latest police officer to be killed as a result of the country’s war on drugs. Last Wednesday, Gen. Albayalde and my friends, Police Regional Office 4-A director, Brigadier General Ted Carranza and Rizal Police Provincial Office director, Colonel Lou  Evangelista paid tribute to the slain cop.

The three also visited Dapyawen’s colleague, Staff Sergeant Joseph Monjardin who was badly wounded during the gunbattle with two brothers wanted for their involvement in illegal drug trafficking, robbery-holdup and gun-for-hire activities in Rizal.

Gen. Albayalde gave a posthumous PNP Medalya ng Kadakilaan to Pat. Dapyawen for his acts of heroism, the medal received by his bereaved family. He also pinned the PNP Medalya ng Sugatang Magiting to Staff Sgt. Monjardin for his bravery in action.

The two policemen were among the members of the Antipolo City police who encountered brothers Ranie and Celeste Lajota and other members of the so-called Lego Crime Group during a buy-bust operation in Sitio Sagipin and Sitio Mapayapa in Barangay dela Paz.

The two were already transacting with an undercover officer when they sensed the entrapment operation and ran to a nearby house where they took their guns and started firing at the officers. Pat. Dapyawen was hit by a shotgun ammunition directly in his chest and died while being taken to the Antipolo City District Hospital. Monjardin was shot in the stomach and is still recuperating at the Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center.

Carranza told me that Celeste Lantoja was killed on the spot while his brother died after trading shots with pursuing policemen in Sitio Mapayapa. The official said that Ranie Lajota is the subject of two murder cases investigated by the Antipolo City police, one of which took place in Sitio Saguipin in Bgy. Dela Paz where he was believed to have killed one Ban Halen Gabanes last February 18.The 2nd involved the killing of one Cary Banzuela last April 20.

Recovered from the suspects’ possession were one 12-gauge shotgun, a caliber .38 revolver and the service firearm of Pat. Dapyawen, said Antipolo City police chief, Lieutenant Col. Villaflor Bannawagan.  Indeed, Dapyawen’s death is  a very sad news but a proof that although there are still rogue cops out there who have been arrested or being targeted by the PNP Counter-Intelligence Task Force for their illicit activities, many policemen like Dapyawen and Monjardin are ready to sacrifice their lives in fighting criminality or ‘Ihandog and iisang buhay’ as they always sing.

I always grieve each time a policeman or a soldier is killed while going after armed drug traffickers and other criminals. Let’s not put their deaths in vain and we can do that by putting new faces in the Senate known for their strong advocacy when it comes to fighting drugs, criminality and corruption like ‘Bato.’