By: Jennifer P. Rendon
RUNNING after Ernesto “Erning” Bolivar, Western Visayas’ alleged top drug personality, was never put in the backburner.
It remains as main operational priority of the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6), said Police Brigadier General Rene Pamuspusan.
Weeks into assuming the PRO-6 helm, Pamuspusan said he already discussed Bolivar’s status with the Regional Intelligence Division (RID), the Regional Drug Enforcement Unit (RDEU), and the unit commanders.
“I have given my order to look into this drug gang leader,” he said.
In fact, coordination is also done with other regional police offices, as Bolivar’s case was also taken up by the PNP national headquarters.
“The other regional offices might assist us in running after him,” he said.
Pamuspusan said there’s always a possibility that Pamuspusan has protectors in the police or business sectors
“His hiding would not have prospered if they don’t have protectors. But definitely we have already cleansed PRO-6 with these protectors through the efforts of the previous commanders of these regions,” he said.
Pamuspusan is confident that Bolivar would be collared during his stint.
Two years after he was placed on the top of the target list, police have yet to nab Bolivar.
Despite the efforts of the police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) who deployed a tracking team, Bolivar remains elusive.
The P500,000 monetary reward for his arrest has apparently failed to hasten his arrest.
One reason why Bolivar continues to skirt arrest was his being highly mobile, Police Colonel Marlon Tayaba, Iloilo provincial police chief, earlier said.
Tayaba said Bolivar was monitored in several cities of Metro Manila and at least three provinces in Luzon.
In January 2019, he reportedly went to Iloilo to visit his lover. He passed by Capiz province using an assumed name.
“We’re not discounting the possibility that he underwent plastic surgery or facial enhancement,” Tayaba said.
The facial tinkering is possible since his girlfriend reportedly underwent beauty enhancement procedures.
While Bolivar remains active in the illegal drug trade, his movements were clearly restrained.
“His movement is limited because he’s been put under monitoring,” Tayaba said, but “he established contacts in Manila that send illegal drugs supply to his minions in Iloilo.”
Despite that, Bolivar is still financially able to fund his hiding. He recently sold two buildings in Molo, Iloilo City for P36 million.
“We can’t be certain for now if he already disposed a resort in Capiz and a lot in Passi City,” Tayaba said.
It was gathered that police authorities almost caught up with Bolivar sometime in January 2018 but he again slipped past the dragnet.
While the areas where he was last seen have been identified, human intelligence is still needed to eventually pin him down.
Last year, police said Bolivar had been all over Visayas and Luzon and was even spotted in Bicol Region.
In 2017, when police had been hot on his trails, it was reported that Bolivar chose to remain in Panay area.
The Pototan local government unit (LGU) has pledged a P200,000 reward for Bolivar’s arrest.
In September 2017, the PRO-6 announced that Bolivar will be their next target following the death of suspected drug personality, Richard Prevendido.
Bolivar, 41, who used to reside in Barangay Guinacas, Pototan, Iloilo, had been considered as a sub-group leader of the Prevendido Drug Group.
He used to operate in Iloilo province while Prevendido and his other core members took Iloilo City as their territory.
While working for Prevendido, he also used to get drugs supply from the Odicta Drug Group.
The Odicta Drug Group used to be a formidable force in the illegal drug trade until the death of its leader, Melvin Odicta, Sr., and his wife Meriam on Aug. 29, 2016.
Bolivar was reportedly into gun-for-hire activities.
There were reports that he used to be Odicta’s hatchet man.
But it appeared that almost all of his involvement in gun-for-hire activities did not even reach the courts.
He was allegedly involved in the killing of the husband of his live-in partner. However, the case was also settled.
Most of his cases were settled while some, he posted bail.
He is respondent to Criminal Case No. 17-8454 for violation of Section 5, Article II, of Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002), a non-bailable offense.
Members of the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO) intelligence branch and Pototan PNP considered his abode a drug den.
As Oplan Tokhang commenced in 2016, Bolivar and Ricardo Trabuco turned themselves over to the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) on July 12, 2016, through the efforts of Intel operatives from both IPPO and ICPO.
But even after their surrender, the two allegedly continued with the illegal drug trade operation.