BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
A High Value Individual (HVI) drug personality from Region 7 died in a shoot-out with policemen and operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency during a manhunt operation in Brgy. Minoyan, Murcia, Negros Occidental, 7:30 a.m. yesterday.
Killed on the spot was Jinnefer Mercader, 43, a former barangay chairman of Lugo in Borbon town, Cebu, and who escaped from the Medellin District Jail, on March 5, 2019, PLt. John Paul Tabujara, Murcia police officer-in-charge, said.
Tabujara said they recovered a .45 caliber pistol and a 12 gauge shotgun from the encounter site.
Mercader, who was considered a high-risk inmate, initially sought refuge in Brgy. Alegria, Murcia, and later transferred to Brgy.
Minoyan in the town, as he was being closely monitored and tailed by PDEA agents, Tabujara added.
They asked Mercader, who was living alone in the middle of a gamefowl farm, to surrender, Tabujara said.
Mercader, however, fired at the policemen prompting them to return fire, causing his death, he added.
Aside from the two firearms, Tabujara said that they also recovered P400,000 worth of suspected shabu from the slain fugitive.
Mercader, who was linked to illegal drugs, was arrested in Sept. 2, 2017 for illegal possession of firearms and suspected illegal drugs in Borbon, Cebu, the police said.
Two years after, he managed to escape from his jail escorts, while attending a court hearing in Medellin town of Cebu.
Tabujara said that Mercader, who was facing charges for violation of RA 9165, or the Comprehensive Drug Act of 2002, and RA 10591, or illegal possession of firearms, is considered as a drug kingpin in Cebu, and a serial killer who amicably settled murder cases filed against him.
He refused to identify the owner of the gamefowl farm, where Mercader was hiding, pending further investigation.
The manhunt operation against Mercader was jointly conducted by the Murcia Police Station, PDEA, Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, and operatives from the Police Regional Offices 6 and 7.
Mercader escaped during a drug bust-turned-shootout in Aug. 27 in Brgy. Pahanocoy, Bacolod City, where a HVI drug personality also died. Seven drug suspects were also arrested, and P374,000 worth of suspected shabu was seized.
Col. Henry Biñas, director of the Bacolod City Police Office, earlier said that Mercader was also involved in gun-for-hire activities and illegal drugs, and was a self-confessed hitman.*