Drug suspect shot, 2 others nabbed in SoCot

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — A suspected drug pusher is in critical condition after he was shot by police operatives while reportedly attempting to escape during a buy-bust operation here on Monday night.

Sr. Insp. Fernando Manuel, chief of the city police’s drug enforcement unit, identified the suspect as John Rafael Eco alias Toto, 22, of Niyog Street in Barangay Dadiangas South.

He said police agent initially purchased from Eco a sachet of suspected metamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu worth P1,000 near the corner of Jose Catolico Avenue and Tiongson Street in Barangay Lagao at past 6 p.m.

But he said the suspect later noticed the presence of police operatives and tried to escape aboard a red pick-up type multicab.

Manuel said they were forced to shoot Eco after he allegedly acted to draw a handgun and tried to run over some members of their team.

Eco sustained a gunshot wound on the left side of his head and was rushed to the city government-run Jorge P. Royeca Hospital but was later transferred to the intensive care unit of the St. Elizabeth Hospital.

The police official said they have long been monitoring the movements of the suspect, who is the son of Barangay Dadiangas South councilor Alvin Eco.

“He is included in our drug watch list,” Manuel told reporters.

The suspect’s family has protested and called for a deeper investigation into the alleged drug buy-bust operation.

A family member, who asked not to be named, said Eco had no vices and was not involved in any illegal drug-related activity.

Meantime, in Koronadal City, police operatives recovered around P165,000 worth of suspected shabu and marijuana from two suspected drug pushers in a buy-bust operation at a portion of Block 6, Marañon Village of Barangay Zone 3 at around 4:15 p.m. Monday.

Chief Insp. Jomero Sentinta, deputy chief of the Koronadal City police station, identified the suspects as Jeffrey Bantilan, 29, and Nathan Joseph Santos, 22, who were residents of Koronadal City and Polomolok town in South Cotabato, respectively.

Recovered from the suspects were one small, two medium and three big packs of shabu, a pack of dried marijuana leaves, various drug paraphernalia and a caliber .22 pistol.

The suspects, who are currently detained at the Koronadal City police station, would be charged for violation of sections 5 and 11 or selling and possession of dangerous drugs, under Article II of Republic Act (RA) 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002 and RA 10591 or illegal possession of firearms. Alejandro Saludo/PNA-northboundasia.com