Barangay exec nabbed in SouthCot buy-bust operation

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNEws / 25 Feb) – Anti-drug operatives arrested late Tuesday night an elected barangay official in Banga town in South Cotabato in a drug buy-bust operation in the area.

Agent Vince Lachica, public information officer of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Region 12, identified the suspect as Emmanuel Recto Malala, 36, an incumbent councilor of Barangay Improgo in Banga.

He said the suspect was nabbed at his residence around 10:20 p.m. after allegedly selling a sachet of metamphetamine hydrocholoride or shabu to a PDEA agent who acted as a buyer.

Recovered from the suspect were four small plastic packs containing a gram of suspected shabu with a Dangerous Drugs Board value of P7,500 and P500 marked money, he said.

“We subjected the suspect to casing and surveillance after receiving a tip from a local informant about his illegal activities,” he told MindaNews.

Prior to the operation, Lachica said they conducted several test-buys on the suspect that all yielded positive.

“We tagged him as a priority target since he is actively involved in the selling of shabu and he’s an elected official at the same time,” he said.

Lachica said the suspect, who is currently detained at the lockup of the PDEA regional office here, will be charged for selling and possession of illegal drugs as provided for in Sections 5 and 11 of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Malala, who is currently on his second term as barangay councilor of Improgo in Banga, is the first elected official to have been arrested in Region 12 this year in connection with the illegal drug trade.

In the previous years, police and PDEA agents arrested several barangay officials in the region in various anti-drug raids.

South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes earlier confirmed that several elected officials in the province were being monitored by local authorities due to their alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade and other related activities.

She said the concerned officials were placed in the area’s drug watch list based on intelligence information gathered by local police units and the PDEA.