By JOEY NACALABAN
ARRESTED Gitagum elections officer Jose Mari Fernandez was thought to have substance abuse problems by his co-workers but no one suspected him to be selling shabu, the director of the Commission on Elections in Misamis Oriental said on Thursday.
Lawyer Carlito Ravelo, provincial elections supervisor, also revealed that Fernandez’s arrest early this week was not his first brush with the law this year. Just this July 31, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group raided Fernandez’s house where the designated Gitagum elections officer yielded a caliber .45 pistol and a shotgun, Ravelo said.
Fernandez bailed out in connection with his illegal gun possession case.
Ravelo said he had planned on talking with Fernandez about the CIDG raid had it not been for his second arrest this week. He said he had also heard talk about Fernandez’s alleged drug problem.
“Pero among pagtoo, user lang siya, not pusher. Mao tong nakignat mi tanan diri sa opisina kay gi-buy-bust man siya — meaning, gabaligya siya,” Ravelo said.
Fernandez was arrested during an undercover operation staged by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency at Bloomingdale subdivision in Iponan, this city, on Wednesday. Narcotic agents pounced on him after he allegedly sold suspected shabu to an undercover agent. PDEA said the suspect yielded five sachets of suspected shabu.
Fernandez’s friend, Clint Pagapulaan, was arrested in a follow-up operation as a result of the Comelec officer’s disclosure.
Fernandez is an engineering graduate who rose from the ranks in the Comelec for a period of 17 years. He started as a mere casual worker tasked to serve as a computer technician.
Ravelo said Fernandez has been having family problems — he and his wife separated three years ago and the suspect has been living with another woman.