Tabor’s claims dubbed as election propaganda: PNP doubts ‘slay try’ on shabu lab star witness
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With the Catanduanes police stating that an incident of indiscriminate firing is unrelated to an alleged attempt to silence him, shabu lab star witness Ernesto Tabor Jr.’s tale of death threats and escape from a gunman’s bullets last week has been tagged as false and part of black propaganda.

Both the camps of congressional candidate Araceli Wong, whose two sons were linked by Tabor to the shabu laboratory’s operation, and gubernatorial bet Cong. Cesar Sarmiento, have derided the witness’ latest claim.

Wong reportedly said she would not waste her time on his false allegations while Sarmiento questioned the timing of Tabor’s claim that the congressman was among the protectors of the shabu laboratory, coming just five weeks before the May 13, 2019 midterm elections.

Sarmiento is running against reelectionist Governor Joseph Cua, whose camp was allegedly involved in the surprise emergence of Tabor as a masked witness in July 2017.

It may be recalled that on the basis of Tabor’s affidavit, both PBM Joseph Al-Randie Wong and businessman Jardin Brian Wong were added to those charged in the shabu lab case, including Tabor himself.

However, Malacanang reportedly put on hold the re-filing of the charges against PBM Wong, former Albay PBM Niño Snookie Imperial, and alleged drug trader Jun Rance for violation of Section 26, Par. (d) of Republic Act 9165, specifically conspiracy to trade dangerous drugs, and Angelica Balmadrid-Isidoro, San Beda College of Law Dean Atty. Ulpiano Sarmiento III, JB Wong, former Caramoan Mayor Constantino Cordial Jr., businessman Alan Ang Hung, Lorenzo “Bigik” Piñera IV, and Tabor for conspiracy to manufacture dangerous drugs.

The other accused are former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) regional director Augusto Eric Isidoro, Xian Xian Wang, Pido Bonito, Jayson Uy, Paolo Uy, Raymond Lee, farm caretaker Lorenzo “Lawrence/Kidot” Piñera II, Paolo Wee Palisoc, Phung Yuan Estorco and Sheng Wang. Only Isidoro and Lorenzo Piñera are in detention pending the hearing of the charges.

In an interview with the local media, Tabor has claimed that he, Isidoro and one of the Chinese went to the congressman’s residence sometime before the May 2016 national and local elections. He alleged that Isidoro donated P7 million for the solon’s campaign and that it was one of Sarmiento’s political leaders who initially helped run the shabu laboratory in a converted piggery before the warehouse was built.

He said that his allegations against the congressman are contained in an affidavit which he has submitted to regional police officials, with the Igang meeting documented by a picture allegedly showing the congressman, Isidoro and the unnamed Chinese.

However, there is no proof as of press time that such an affidavit was indeed executed by Tabor while the alleged photograph has yet to surface. His allegations were not recorded in the blotter of the San Andres police where he was taken by law enforcers and interviewed by the media after the alleged shooting incident.

Cong. Sarmiento himself has wondered why Tabor made the accusations only now, right in the middle of the campaign, when he could have done so in 2017 and included the claims in his sworn affidavit.

This latest controversy in the shabu lab case erupted last week after Tabor, who is under the protection of the Catanduanes provincial police at its Camp Francisco Camacho headquarters, was fetched from sitio Tondo in Mayngaway Wednesday last April 11, 2019. He had called the San Andres police to report that two men tried to kill him early that morning.

PNP provincial director P/Col. Paul Abay, however, refused to confirm the Tabor’s allegation. He told local media that the police has yet to connect a report of indiscriminate firing in the same area to the alleged slay attempt on Tabor as the witness in the former incident did not see who the gunmen were firing at during that time.

“Hindi man po namin sir mairelate sa alleged shooting k mr tabor at hindi man po nakita ng witnes po. case is still under invest po. we will inform you po s progress po..” PD Abay said in a post in media chatroom.

In a later press release issued last Saturday, the Catanduanes police stated that Tabor happened to be at said barangay to visit his family during the incident and claimed that he was the target of the two malefactors considering the threat that he has allegedly been receiving.

“Witnesses disclosed that indeed an indiscriminate firing occurred in the area, however they cannot attest that the suspects were aiming the gun to the direction of Ernesto Tabor,” PD Abay stated. “In view of the circumstance, although the incident was not directed to the person of Ernesto Tabor, CATPPO considers it as a threat to the security of Tabor, hence we shall continue to do our part to ensure his safety and security and of the community as a whole.”

According to the official police report, housewife Maria Abejo, 47, was fetching water at a deep well in sitio Tondo at around 5 A.M. of April 11 saw the two unidentified men wearing dark colored jackets riding on a motorcycle that suddenly stopped more or less 15 meters where she was located.

Abejo told the police that the back rider drew a pistol, fired five times and then left the area. Responding law enforcers later recovered five empty shells of Cal .45 bullets in the area.

In separate interviews with some members of the local media, Tabor claimed that he was walking on the road at 5 A.M. carrying P140 with which to buy fish and bread intended for the food of workers constructing a pigpen at his house.

He said he noticed two men wearing safety helmets on board a motorcycle whom he thought were putting up election posters. When the backrider pulled out a gun, Tabor said he jumped into the nearby canal as the gunman fired off four shots, all hitting the concrete dike. As the gunman let loose one more bullet, the witness claimed that he ran along the shallow stream, losing one of his slippers in the process, until he was certain he was safe.

He also swore that on April 4 at about 10 A.M., an unidentified boy delivered a sealed envelope addressed to Tabor at the gate of Camp Camacho. The envelope, Tabor said, contained a black ribbon with his name on it as well a piece of paper saying his days are numbered.

In the hours after the April 11 alleged shooting incident, he likewise averred, a similar envelope containing the same threats was delivered to his home in Mayngaway.

He told the Tribune that he was not brought to his home by police escorts as claimed by his detractors on facebook but that he escaped through a side gate at the camp on the night of April 9 so he could spend his 33rd birthday with his wife and kids on April 11.

Tabor has four children by his first wife and two more, ages four and two years, by his current partner.

“Dae ako natakot magadan ta totoo man piga taram ko. Mahiling an paghearing ko. Dae lamang ako natakot magtaram ki totoo sa court. Aram ko asa tama ako at totoo piga taram ko,” he said in a text message.

As the masked man presented by the Bicol police regional office as the star witness in the shabu laboratory case is a former drug pusher and police asset who has been charged before in the Regional Trial Court.

Tabor, who claims to have graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Industrial Education from the Catanduanes State Colleges, has claimed to have been an automobile and real estate agent.

He said in his affidavit that he once worked as an aide at the National Bureau of Investigation’s Security Management Division under Atty. Mario Garcia and later as a body guard of alleged shabu lab mastermind Atty. Eric Isidoro who then headed the Anti-Illegal Drugs Division and was a close friend of co-conspirator Larry Que, later gunned down in December 2017. NBI agents and employees have reportedly executed affidavits denying Tabor’s claim.

In 2014, Tabor was used as a poseur-buyer by the Virac police in at least two buy-bust operations against suspected drug pushers.

In August that year, agents of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), raided the Gogon Centro house rented by Tabor, who the team claimed was engaged in volume selling of shabu and possessed unlicensed firearms such as an Uzi machine pistol and Cal. 45 pistol.

Tabor was not at the house but his companion, Carlito Matienzo, was arrested. A search of Tabor’s bedroom yielded a sachet containing shabu, another sachet containing drug residue, an empty sachet, transparent pipe and disposable lighter.

Sometime in the third week of January 2015, or just more than a week after Tabor allegedly brought Paolo Uy and the two other Chinese to Catanduanes as well as fetched from Manambrag, San Andres, three styrofoam containers and three gallons of chemicals, he was arrested by the police while confined under another name at a private hospital in Virac.

Accused of violation of Sec. 11 and 12 of Republic Act 9165, Tabor apparently managed to post the total bail of P240,000.00.


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