‘Drug-free’ MassKara fest seen as Bacolod cops seize P20-M ‘shabu’

The Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO) is ensuring a 'drug-free' celebration of the 44th MassKara Festival, which climaxes this coming weekend, after the recovery of 3.02 kg. of suspected shabu in a buy-bust in Barangay Singcang-Airport on Tuesday. Col. Noel Aliño, city police director, said Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez instructed him to make sure illegal drugs would not proliferate during the festivity, which will culminate on Oct. 22. 'I was instructed by the mayor that there should be no illegal drugs during the MassKara Festival. We will just have fun,' Aliño said in a press briefing with Benitez at the Government Center on Wednesday. He noted that the volume of the seized suspected shabu, with an estimated street value of PHP20.53 million, would have been used by 30,000 persons had the drug supply been distributed in Bacolod and nearby areas during the festival. Suspect Jummel 'Tata' Camento, 38, tagged as a high-value individual, was arrested in a rented house in Purok Neptune by operatives of the City Drug Enforcement Unit. Aliño said Camento, who was apprehended after a month-long surveillance, was a previous drug offender, who was first arrested in 2012 but was freed in 2022 after his case was dismissed. 'This time, we will ensure an airtight case against him. I have asked the assistance (of the) City Legal Office. There should be conviction,' he added. Aliño said the suspect belongs to the Caunda drug group, the lone drug ring operating in the city, which sources illegal drugs outside Bacolod. Benitez, who turned over an undisclosed amount to Aliño as a reward for the successful anti-drug operation, said the city government, together with the BCPO, would 'come up with a strategy' to stop the entry of illegal drugs in possible ports of entry. 'We're on top of it. Whatever they do, they can't get away with it. They will eventually be arrested,' he added. Almost 3,000 law enforcement personnel and force multipliers have been deployed to secure the MassKara Festival. Aside from the 941 personnel of the BCPO, about 1,037 police officers have been deployed as augmentation forces - 471 from the Negros Occidental Police and 566 from the Police Regional Office 6 (Western Visayas) and the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 6.

Source: Philippines News Agency