Negros Island’s top drug suspect tags local execs, cops, media

Marchel P. Espina
Negros Island’s top drug suspect tags local execs, cops, media
Drug suspect Ricky Serenio claims that every week, his group gave P30,000 to P500,000 to its protectors in government

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – The number one drug personality in Negros Island Region (NIR) has linked several policemen, law enforcers, politicians, judges and media men to the illegal drug trade in Negros Occidental.

Ricky Serenio, 34, was clad in a bulletproof vest when Chief Superintendent Renato Gumban, director of Police Regional Office-18 (PRO-18), presented him to the media Monday night, January 9.

Serenio claimed that every week, his group gave P30,000 to P500,000 in protection money to these individuals, whom he did not identify.

Serenio – considered as a Level 3 drug personality as he operates from the local to the national level – is part of the Berya Group in Negros Occidental. 

The suspect, who had been in the illegal drug trade for two years now, claimed that 15 police officers with ranks not higher than superintendent, and more than 20 non-commissioned police officers served as his group’s protectors.

“They received P30,000 to P125,000 every week, depending on the area,” he claimed.

He said that when a high-ranking member of his group got arrested, P500,000 is paid off to the police to settle the case.

Serenio also claimed that politicians, agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, judges, and court employees also received protection money. He added they used to give out “payola” to operatives of National Bureau of Investigation.

He also claimed that two employees of Bombo Radyo were on the take, receiving P50,000 every week from the group.

In a statement, Mary Divine Cuello, Bombo Radyo Bacolod station manager, said the radio statement management will look into the allegations of the suspect, stressing that Bombo Radyo does not tolerate it. 

She challenged Serenio to name names to make his statement credible. 

Supply from Mindanao

Serenio said his group used to get its supply from the New Bilibid Prison in Mandaluyong City, and now from Marawi City in Lanao Del Sur.

He said the contraband is wrapped in carbon paper, to escape detection at the ports, and then inserted in a spare tire of a vehicle before it is transported by sea. One spare tire, he added, can carry as much as 8 kilos of shabu (methampethamine).

Serenio claimed his group could dispose about 15 kilos of drugs worth P57 million in the city in a month.

Serenio was arrested in Talisay City, Negros Occidental, on Sunday, January 8.

Joint operatives of Regional Operations Task Group (RSOTG) and Special Action Force (SAF) served him with the arrest warrant for grave coercion. 

During the operation to arrest him, Serenio held his partner hostage but the policemen subdued the suspect, who yielded a loeded .45 caliber pistol. 

Serenio and his partner were linked to the kidnapping of two drug suspects in August last year following a drug transaction. 

Witness protection

Meanwhile, Gumban said that charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives were filed against Serenio – considered as a “big catch” for the Negros Island policemen – before the City Prosecutor’s Office on Monday.

He said that NIR police will verify the claims of the suspect, who was expected to complete his affidavit in two days.

Gumban said that some of the police officials mentioned by Serenio had been relieved of their posts.

He said the suspect will be placed under the  government’s witness protection program in exchange for his sworn statement. Serenio is now in the custody of RSOTG.

The PRO-18 chief added that those individuals tagged in illegal drugs will be monitored by the police.

Another alleged top drug personality in Negros Occidental, Alain Gamboa, surrendered in July 2016. –

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