Sunday, August 10, 1997  

House body to quiz PNP chief on bodyguards of.. 'drug lord'
At least 3 policemen cropped up as Lim bodyguards and 2 others are an ex-army trainee and civilian.


SUN.STAR Staff Reporters  

     THE House committee on public order and security will ask PNP Chief Recardo Sarmiento II to explain why suspected drug lord Peter Lim has been given special treatment by providing him police bodyguards.

      In yesterday's Congressional inquiry, the committee revealed that Lim has at least five "bodyguards"-- three policemen, one ex-army trainee and a cicilian.

     Rep. Antonio V. Cuenco identified Lim's alleged bodyguards as SPO1 Rey Martillano, of Cebu city police office (CCPO) vice control section; PO3 Bert Hibaya, of CCPO mobile patrol group; PO3 Michael Sta. Iglesia Sarcol, of the PNP security protection office (PSPO); Eddie Bustillo, an ex-army trainee; and Ananias Dy, a civilian.

     "This is a very shocking and anomalous revelation. Can you imagine the government spending money by providing VIP security to a man who has been in the PNP watch list?" asked Parañaque Rep. committee chairman Roilo Golez.

       As this developed, the name of Sr.Insp. Ariel Palcuto, former vice control section (VCS) chief, also surfaced yesterday when Cuenco began questioning fireman Wenceslao "Jun" Opone, who also figured in the watch list as a "drug financier".

     After the committee grilled CCPO Chief Antonio Enteria Jr. about the bodyguards, Golez immediately directed the committee secretary to draft a letter to Sarmiento asking for an explanation of the PNP's alleged special treatment of Lim.

     Lim, a heavy equipment importer and karaoke joints owner who is tagged as an alleged drug financier in the Narcotics Group (NG) 7 watch list, ignored the House inquiry for the second time yesterday.

     Golez said the PSPO is supposed to provide security protection only to top government officials, foreign dignitaries and other VIPs.  

     Enteria told the committee that he heard Lim received death threats "a long time ago" or prior to the expose of Cuenco.

     Enteria said the businessman did not ask for security assistance from CCPO but from the Manila-based PSPO.

     The CCPO chief was slightly stirred when Cuenco publicly announced that Lim has at least five personal bodyguards, including Martillano and Hibaya.

     Enteria admitted that both Martillano and Hibaya were "moonlighting" at Lim's business establishments but said he already warned the two to stop their activity long before the Cuenco expose.

     Except for Sarcol, who has been officially assigned by PSPO, Enteria said the CCPO has not detailed any policeman to work as Lim's personal bodyguards. The PSPO has its own regional office here, he added. 

     Cuenco, who based his facts on a confidential NG 7 intelligence report, said Martillano and Hibaya were acting as Lim's bodyguards and could have been facilitating the businessman's alleged illegal trade. 

     But Enteria insisted, in an interview, that the two policemen were not bodyguards but were only moonlighting as security guards of Lim's business establishments. 

     Enteria said the two have already been investigated. He however could not give specifics on what administrative sanctions have been imposed on them. 

     He added that the law is not clear on whether a policeman is allowed to have a second job in private establishments after his eight hours official duty, although some police officials teach in private schools or universities.

    Sun*Star Daily contacted the vice control section but was told that Martillano was on day off but would resume work today.

     Martillano was the one who arrested Alberto Caño, a van-for-hire driver and Ariel Balansag, a conductor, for the abduction of sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Jacqueline Chiong.

     Police suspect that Caño's Lite Ace van was used when the Chiongs disappeared while waiting for a ride at Ayala Center Cebu last July 16.

     Caño and Balansag, both detained at the Criminal Investigation Group 7 headquarters, were later released after police failed to gather evidence linking the two to the crime.

     Dionisio Chiong, father of the victims, also works as a purchasing manager of Lim's Hilton Heavy Equipment Corp. in Mandaue city.

     Meanwhile, the names of Palcuto and a certain Sr.Insp. Pacito Briz also cropped up at the public hearing yesterday.  

     This surfaced after Cuenco questioned Opone, who was also in the NG 7 watch list, on whether he knew the two police officers.

     Cuenco, who quoted former Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center jail warden Gaudioso Navales as a source, said Palcuto and Briz were allegedly Opone's contacts in the illegal drug business here.

     Palcuto, however, told S.SD last night that he does not know Opone personally, although he admitted the fireman was in their watch list during his stint as vice control section chief.

     He said they have information on Opone's alleged drug activity but they could not pin him down due to lack of evidence.

     Palcuto also denied giving protection to any drug personality saying he has filed several drug cases in court, resulting in a high conviction rate.

     Last year, Palcuto consistently topped the city's anti-drug campaign, but was relieved from his VCS post for unknown reasons.

     For his part, Enteria bolstered Palcuto's claim that the police officer had no derogatory records like protecting illegal drug suspects.

NOTE:  1.  RED COLOR OURS FOR EMPHASIS.                                                                                

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