Town councilor nabbed in Kalinga drug buy-bust op


TABUK CITY, Kalinga — A municipal councilor is facing drug charges and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, following his arrest in a drug buy-bust operation conducted against him on Sunday, the police reported on Monday.

Chief Insp. Richard Gadingan, community relations chief and public information officer of Kalinga Police Provincial Office, identified the suspect as Dexter Gayawet Batalao, 31, councilor in the town of Pasil in this province.

The suspect, police said, is also temporarily residing at Sitio Pantal Brookside, Bulanao of this city.

Gadingan said the councilor was arrested in a joint buy-bust operation conducted by Kalinga Drug Enforcement Unit, Tabuk City government, the Pasil police station, and the regional intelligence unit while waiting at the van terminal in Barangay Dagupan here in Tabuk City.

The policeman said the councilor sold a heat-sealed plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance believed to be shabu to a policeman who posed as a buyer.

“But when the suspect learned that he is transacting with law enforcers, he tried to evade using his car, a Mitsubishi Galant with plate number MMW 888, towards the direction of Barangay Bulanao. The operatives conducted a hot pursuit and coordinated with the Tabuk City Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) to intercept the suspect in Barangay Appas, Tabuk City.

The SWAT team that intercepted the suspect conducted a search which led to the confiscation of one Ingram machine pistol equipped with a magazine and silencer.

The operatives also recovered six bullets for caliber .45, another 44 bullets for .9 mm, two pieces of lighters, and an improvised “tooter” (paraphernalia known to be used in inhaling smoke coming from burned shabu).

Also recovered from the councilor was the PHP1,000 that was used as buy-bust money.

Gadingan added the Tabuk City police, who did the follow-up operation by serving the search warrant issued by Judge Victor Dalanao of Municipal Circuit Trial Court Branch 2, also recovered at the councilor’s temporary residence in Bulanao three heat-sealed sachet containing suspected shabu, used foils, and some ammunition.

“The suspect had been a subject of surveillance since he submitted himself under the Philippine National Police drug program, ‘Oplan Tokhang,’” he related.

Gadingan said Batalao had previously availed of the government’s voluntary surrender program and had been under the Kalinga province’s community drug rehabilitation program.

He said the buy-bust operation against the municipal councilor came after the police received reports that Batalao has not stopped from his illegal activities despite having been listed as “Tokhang Program” surrenderer.  Jesse Maguiya/

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