Soldier killed, cop wounded in Koronadal City drug bust

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — A soldier who was allegedly a drug user was killed while a police officer was wounded in an anti-drug operation at an outskirt village in Koronadal City Wednesday night.

Sr. Supt. Franklin Alvero, South Cotabato police director, said Thursday suspect Pfc. Richie Librado, 41, was gunned down by joint operatives during a shootout in Purok ML Quezon, Barangay San Jose at around 7:55 p.m.

He said Librado, who is a resident of Purok Boundary in San Jose, was as an active member of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion based in President Quirino town in Sultan Kudarat,

Alvero said the shootout ensued after police operatives caught Librado and three other suspects having a “shabu” session following a buy-bust operation at a house in the area.

But the suspect reportedly resisted and fired at the raiding team using a caliber .45 handgun.

He said one of the operatives, Sr. Insp. Ramil Aruelo, was hit on the leg during the shootout, which lasted several minutes.

Alvero said the team eventually cornered and neutralized the suspect, who was declared dead on arrival at a hospital in Koronadal City.

“He (Librado) was not the target of the operation. The team was actually surprised to find him there. It just happened that they caught him having a pot session and he resisted,” he said.

Arrested during the operation were suspected pushers Herbert Deloso, 32; Ronald Antay, 42; and, Erickson Ligaya, 27.

Recovered from the suspects were a small plastic sachet, medium pack and a large pack of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, various drug paraphernalia and PHP1,000 marked bill used in the buy-bust.

Also seized were a homemade 12-gauge rifle, a 5.56mm single shot pistol and assorted bullets.

Dr. Glorio Sandig, action officer of the Koronadal City Anti-Drug Abuse Council, said the arrested suspects were among the drug pushers and users from the area who surrendered and surfaced to authorities last year under “Oplan Tokhang.”

But he said the three reportedly resumed with their illegal activities based on information from concerned residents.

He said the Police Regional Office-12’s intelligence division, Provincial Police Public Safety Company and Koronadal City police station eventually decided to launch the operation following a series of surveillance activities.

Sandig said the three suspects, who are currently detained at the Korondal City police station’s lock-up cell, would be charged for violation of sections 5, 11, and 12 or selling and possession of dangerous drugs, as well as possession of drug paraphernalia, under Article II of Republic Act (RA) 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

They will face additional charges for violation of RA 10591 or illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, he added. AVE/