Neil Abella
  • Sex: Male
  • Age: 46
  • Occupation: barangay councilor
Incident Details
  • Killed by unknown assailants in public
  • Date of Incident: April 13, 2018
  • Location of Incident: San Fernando, Cebu

CEBU, Philippines — Another official from San Fernando town with alleged connection to suspected drug lord Franz Sabalones became the latest casualty in the string of vigilante-style executions in Metro Cebu.

Neil Abella, 46, along with two other companions, just finished eating at a burger house on General Maxilom Avenue in Cebu City and were about to leave the area onboard a Honda Fit car when a lone gunman approached Abella from the driver’s side dawn Friday.

Bursts of gunfire rang next.

Abella was hit in the face, head, and nape. He was already unresponsive when medics arrived.

Abella was an incumbent barangay councilor in San Isidro, San Fernando town, Cebu. He was also a former drug surrenderer, according to the police.

Senior Police Officer 3 Rommel Bancog of the Cebu City Police Office Homicide Section identified his companions as Enric Clint Alesna, 41, businessman and a resident of Carcar City, and a certain Mabel Pedroza Noel, 43.

The two immediately disembarked from the car and ran to the nearest establishment to seek help.

Alesna, who was seated beside Abella, was hit by stray bullet in the right arm.

Senior Superintendent Joel Doria, CCPO director, said they are now looking at the victim’s alleged involvement in illegal drugs as a possible motive of the killing.

“As per investigators and sa station commander, lumalabas na drug-related ang incident. And tiningnan natin ang background, initially kabilang siya sa listahan na lumabas na alleged bag man ang participation niya (sa Sabalones drug group),” Doria said in an interview with the media yesterday.

Sabalones was considered as one of the biggest drug lords in Central Visayas who operated in southern Cebu and neighboring areas. In August 2016, at the height of President Duterte’s war against drugs, Sabalones yielded to Philippine National Police chief Ronald “Bato” De la Rosa and admitted his involvement in the illegal drug trade.

Police touted Sabalones as the second biggest drug lord in Cebu, next to his former boss, slain drug kingpin Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz.

Sabalones’ brother Fralz is the current vice mayor of San Fernando.

Doria further revealed that during investigation, Abella was found to be a former drug surrenderer in his town. The report was confirmed by no less than the chief of San Fernando police, Senior Inspector Adrian Nalua. Abella surrendered in 2016.

Nalua, in a separate interview with The FREEMAN, said they had been monitoring Abella and found out that Abella had been less visible in their barangay recently. Despite this, he allegedly remained active in his participation in Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council meetings.

Last year, operatives of Crime Investigation and Detection Group served a search warrant at Abella’s residence but nothing was found.

In May 2017, his nephew Leevan Abella, who lived in the same house as him, was arrested in a buy-bust operation.

“Di mi makaingon nga nibalik gyud ni siya (Neil Abella) sa pagpamaligya og shabu kay sa gawas ra man sa iyang balay nadakpan iyang pag-umangkon,” said Nalua.

Doria, meanwhile, said they are digging deeper into the case and are coordinating with San Fernando police for possible information that may help in their investigation.

Senior Superintendent Edgar Alan Okubo, director of Cebu Provincial Police Office, assured the CCPO that they are willing to help in the investigation by sharing information they have at hand.

“We will furnish them information upon their request or we will share information if we have,” Okubo wrote in a text message to The FREEMAN.

Doria said they are looking into all the possibilities that may help them identify the suspect.

“Ang witness, almost mga 10 feet away doon sa pinangyarihan, kinukunan natin ng statement. Tingnan din natin kung may CCTV sa area so hopefully ma-identify natin ang suspect,” Doria said.

Last March 14, San Fernando Councilor Alexander Alicaway was shot dead by two masked men near the town’s public market in Barangay Poblacion.

Nalua said back then that the councilor had no criminal record and had not reported any death threat to the police. He also said Alicaway’s name had not surfaced on the list of personalities suspected of being involved in any illegal activity, including the illegal drug trade.

Drug Arrests
Meanwhile, a newly-identified drug personality in Consolacion town was injured after he allegedly engaged in a firefight with police operatives.

The brief shootout ensued after Janus Vestil, 26, sensed he was transacting with a police decoy during a buy-bust operation in Barangay Pulpogan on Thursday evening.

Police Chief Inspector Gerard Ace Pelare, chief of Consolacion police, said Vestil immediately pulled out his .38 caliber pistol and fired at the police operatives. In retaliation, the policemen shot the suspect hitting his right leg, which led to the successful arrest.

Seized from Vestil were 10 small packs of suspected shabu worth P3,500 and a caliber .38 with live ammunition.

In Danao City, nine suspected drug personalities were arrested during buy-bust operations and yielded almost P700,000 worth of suspected shabu. The operations were conducted in Barangays Taboc, Poblacion, Taytay, and Looc on Thursday morning and evening.

Arrested suspects included Vivian Cosares, Efren Formentera, Ted Albert Pantoja, Josephine Mangas, Carmelo Cascabe Jr., Noli Cola, Richel Alcala, Ronel Martel, and Nilo Banzon, all of legal age. Confiscated from them were 11 medium packs of suspected shabu with estimated Dangerous Drugs Board value of P671,420.

In Minglanilla, police also arrested a high-value target and his two alleged cohorts in a buy-bust operation in Barangay Tulay on Friday dawn.

Arnel “Shongo” Alforque, who is ranked No. 8 on the police watchlist, was nabbed with Jerry Alidon and Rebecca Reroma. The three yielded 21.02 grams of suspected shabu with an estimated value of P248,036.

In Barangay Mactan, Lapu-Lapu City, three drug suspects also fell into the hands of authorities during a buy-bust in Barangay Mactan yesterday morning.

They were identified as Randy Barel Eyas, 30, a factory worker, Elton John Maloloy-on Polar, 23, both residents of Sitio Ka-konsor; and Josue Bayot Mag-usara, 39, a resident of Sitio Angasil. — with Christell Fatima M. Tudtud/JMD (FREEMAN)