PHILIPPINE Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino has condemned the killing of an agent in Lupi town, Camarines Sur.
“We condemn the criminals behind this killing. We believe that this is a planned act with intent to demoralize our agents, as the illegal drugs syndicates try to shake our core,” Aquino said in a statement.
The victim, PDEA-Camarines Norte assistant officer Enrico Barba, was reported missing on Monday after he went to meet an informant in Daet town, Camarines Norte regarding drug activities in the area. He was found dead in Lupi, Camarines Sur. “We strongly defy the threat and we strongly condemn this violence against our agents,” Aquino said.
Barba’s mission was fully documented and disclosed to his Provincial Officer Agent Vidal Bacolod, who relayed the same to the regional director.
He said Barba’s death would not dampen the agency’s campaign against illegal drugs.
“His service to the country, as commendable as it is, will be used as an inspiration and motivation to strike harder against the operators of the illegal drugs industry,” Aquino said.
At about 8 p.m. on Monday, PDEA-5 (Bicol) received a report that Barba’s body was found in Lupi town.
Based on the report of PDEA-5, Barba suffered several gunshot wounds on the face and body. He also had contusions on his body and suffered trauma on the head, according to an initial autopsy report.
Law enforcement authorities have launched a manhunt against the unidentified killers, said PDEA-Bicol Regional Director Christian Frivaldo.
Barba was found dead in Barangay Napolidan, Lupi town, at around 10 a.m. on Monday, a police report said.
The report said the victim’s body -- with a cardboard written with “Wag Tularan, Tulak Ako” -- was dumped at a concrete canal. His hands were tied and his mouth was wrapped with packaging tape.
Frivaldo, in an interview, said the victim was reported missing around the same time his body was found. Barba was said to have met with an informant in Daet town regarding illegal drug activities in the area.
Frivaldo, quoting an autopsy report, said the victim sustained several gunshot wounds in his body.
“The contusions and head trauma was a clear sign that he was tortured before he was gunned down,” he said.
Joint elements of PDEA, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) were tasked to conduct a thorough investigation and arrest the suspects behind the killing of Barba.
“The investigation is being undertaken by the PNP and the NBI as of this moment. We will work fully with our counterparts to identify the perpetrators of this cowardly act which is considered as an attack, an affront to the anti-drug endeavor of the Bicol Region,” Frivaldo said.
He believes the death of his agent was work-related since the victim was casing illegal drug operations in the province.
Frivaldo said the victim had also led anti-illegal drug operations in Albay province. Mar Serrano, PNA