Northbound Philippines News

La Union Mayor reveals mastermind of illegal drugs “factory”

NAGUILIAN, La Union – Mayor Reynaldo Flores disclosed Monday that he revealed the mastermind behind the establishment of the banned
methampethamine chloride or shabu laboratory discovered by authorities in July 2008 in Barangay Bimmotobot here.

Flores, number one among the four La Union “narco-politicians” named by President Duterte, said he knew a lot of information about the involvement of several personalities including a former La Union lawmaker, in the operation of the shabu laboratory.

“We were the ones who busted and stopped the operation of the illegal facility. It backfired against me because they lost billions of drug money,” Flores said in his talk before his supporters who gathered at the municipal hall here to express their support for him.

Flores said he thanked President Duterte for naming him as the number one mayor in his illegal drugs list because it gave him opportunity to
tell everything about the facility including the mastermind.

“Because of the shabu laboratory, I was put in bad light. However, the President made me an instrument for the reopening of this case to find
out the real mastermind on the shabu laboratory. I am very positive the truth will come,” he said.

Flores said he already gave all the information about the illegal facility, which was contained in his affidavit he submitted to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Camp Crame last week.

Flores said that aside from former Police Superintendent Dionicio Borromeo, the convicted protector, there are still bigger personalities behind the illegal facility.

“There is a fish bigger than Borromeo. He is our political enemy and he hates us so much because we withdrew our support to him,” Flores

During the gathering, residents signed a petition asking President Dutertr to remove the names of the four politicians–Bauang Mayor Martin de Guzman, Tubao Mayor Dante Garcia and former Representative Eufranio Eriguel –from the illegal drugs list.

Meanwhile, the prosecution panel that handled the case of the defunct shabu laboratory has written Solicitor General Jose Calida requesting
his office to appeal to the Supreme Court the decision of the Court of Appeals that downgraded the life imprisonment meted to Borromeo.

On June 5, 2013, Judge Ferdinand Fe of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bauang, La Union, Branch 67, sentenced Borromeo to life imprisonment and a fine of P10-million after he was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt as protector of the shabu laboratory.

The prosecution panel, composed of La Union Prosecutor Danilo Bumacod and assistant prosecutors Manuel Dulnuan, Jr. and Gaudencio Valdez
Jr., claimed that the CA clearly found Borromeo guilty of conspiracy but still concluded and imposed the downgraded penalties based on
their 45-page decision released on June 29, 2016.

Also indicted was a certain Joselito Artuz alias George Cordero, the alleged financier, who escaped arrest; SPO1Joey Abang, who died due to illness while in prison; and several unidentified Chinese men who served as chemists.

Borromeo was tagged as protector of the shabu laboratory based on the confession of Dante Tomas Palaganas, the arrested caretaker of the illegal drug facility, who turned state witness.

Palaganas was placed under the custody of the Witness Protection Program of the Department of Justice.

Borromeo was a former chief of Dagupan City police and a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class 1989.

Documents submitted by the prosecutors indicated that Borromeo and Artuz had been in constant communication with Palaganas.

The communication started from the time Borromeo and Artuz began the search for a site for the laboratory until July 9, 2008 when the facility was raided by joint operatives of the La Union police, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency regional office, municipal health office of Naguilian and other operating units.

Investigation disclosed that the group used a piggery business as front for the illegal activity.

Borromeo was then the head of the Ilocos Police Regional Mobile Group when he allegedly recruited Palaganas as his ‘police asset’ and ordered him to look for a lot where they could establish the piggery.

In his testimony, Palaganas as piggery caretaker, said that he was the only witness of the prosecution who knew the identity and involvement
of those who took part in the establishment and operation of the shabu laboratory.

During the raid, authorities recovered at least six truckloads of chemicals and equipment used in “cooking” shabu.

Palaganas and Andy Tangalin, a fellow caretaker, were arrested during the raid on the illegal facility.

Authorities said that around a billion pesos worth of shabu were manufactured during the more than a year operation of the facility.

All those indicted were penalized according to Republic Act 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act. JUN ELIAS/

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