BY SHIELA G. GELERA
A notorious drug personality from Cebu escaped during a drug bust-turned-shootout in Barangay Pahanocoy, Bacolod City, Thursday where a man was killed and seven others were arrested.
P/Col. Henry Biñas, Bacolod City Police Office director, said yesterday that Jennifer Mercader, a notorious drug lord in Cebu province, managed to evade arrest in the operation that yielded 20 sachets of suspected shabu, worth P374,000, drug paraphernalia, and P1,000 in marked money.
Biñas said Mercader is mainly involved in gun-for-hire activities and illegal drugs. The Bacolod police are also establishing Mercader’s connection to the Ozamiz robbery group, Biñas said, adding that follow-up operation is ongoing for his arrest.
Mercader is a self-confessed hitman and is considered a high-profile and “dangerous” fugitive.
Mercader, a former barangay captain of Lugo in Borbon town, Cebu, had escaped from his jailguard escorts at the Medellin District Jail while they were about to leave for a hearing in 2019 for illegal possession of drugs and firearms charges, the Cebu Daily News reported.
He is also tagged in several killings in Cebu, including the murder of P/Lt. Col. Joie Yape, then head of the Provincial Investigation Branch that raided the house of Mercader September 2017 where firearms and drugs were seized, the CDN also reported.
The Bacolod police, meanwhile, identified the fatality in the drug bust-turned-shootout as Jose Paterio Tolete, alias “Pat Tori”, 42, of Barangay Taculing in Bacolod, and a high-value target.
Those arrested while having a drug session were Angel Villanueva, 37, of Barangay Estefania, Janting Monlido, 35, of Barangay Tangub, Dante Casiple, 33, of Barangay Villamonte, Jose Villanueva Jr., 46, of Barangay Singcang-Airport, Denny Rubaton, 38, of Barangay 35, Kenjie Bais, 25, of Barangay Singcang-Airport in Bacolod, and Arjie Aghon, 26, of Barangay Taloc in Bago City, Negros Occidental, police records show.
Joint personnel of the City Drug Enforcement Unit, City Intelligence Unit, Police Drug Enforcement Group, Bacolod City Mobile Force Company-Special Weapons and Tactic unit, and Regional Intelligence Unit conducted the operation.*