By Aaron Recuenco
A witness has surfaced and accused former Catanduanes representative Cesar Sarmiento of receiving millions of pesos allegedly in exchange for the protection of a mega shabu (crystal meth) laboratory in the province.
The affidavit of Ernesto Tabor Jr., alias Entoy, was used by the Virac Police in filing a case of conspiracy to manufacture prohibited narcotics against Sarmiento before the Department of Justice.
Based on the complaint signed by Virac Municipal Police chief Maj. Bon Billy Timuat, Sarmiento allegedly received P10 million in April 2016 and another P10 million in August the same year through a former ranking official of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
According to Tabor, then-NBI Anti-Narcotics head Eric Isidoro reached out to Sarmiento for his protection over a mega shabu laboratory operating in Barangay Palta Small in Virac. The shabu laboratory was dismantled in November 2016 in a police operation.
Sarmiento, who was then reportedly seeking re-election as Catanduanes representative, and Isidoro are both natives of Virac, Tabor said.
Isidoro allegedly promised to support the candidacy of Sarmiento in the first meeting held at the latter’s house in Virac. A few days after the meeting, the P10 million was allegedly delivered.
The same delivery of P10 million, according to Tabor, occurred sometime in August at Sarmiento’s house in Virac.
Tabor, who claimed he was with Isidoro in at least three meetings that included the delivery of money, said he did not mention the name of Sarmiento in the investigation before out of fear due to his political clout.
Among the reasons he cited that allegedly convinced him that Sarmiento was influential at the time was when Sarmiento brought some congressmen to Virac to conduct investigation into the shabu laboratory and how he berated the policemen who served the search warrant.
Tabor recently disclosed what he knew to the Virac chief of police, who in turn used his affidavit to file charges against Sarmiento. Sarmiento lost the gubernatorial race in the May 2019 elections.
In the charge sheet filed by the Virac police, Timuat said Tabor’s testimony established that Sarmiento allegedly benefited from the proceeds of the manufacture of shabu and also acted in conspiracy with Isidoro to “manufacture dangerous drugs and/or control precursor and essential chemicals.”
The case filed against Isidoro and other respondents is still pending before the Department of Justice.
Aside from Tabor’s affidavit, also submitted as evidence were search warrants that led to the dismantling of the mega shabu laboratory and several court documents.