Weekly spikes in Laguna ‘drug war’: 18 killed in February


FROM February 1 to February 25, Laguna Now counted 18 drug suspects — including police officers Jennyson Serrano and Anthony Bautista (story below) — killed in police operations in Laguna province. The numbers spiked during the first two weekends of the month, whenever the police conducted simultaneous operations, province-wide.

Main story: Cops shot dead, nabbed in PNP ‘internal cleansing’

Among them were Ramon Awitan, killed in a shootout on February 17 in Barangay Majada, Calamba City, and Gilbert “Bheng” Flores of Barangay San Francisco, San Pablo City, shot dead in a February 15 operation.
Police said Awitan was a member of the Barok Fajardo criminal gang while Flores belonged to the Amante Drug Group in the province’s third district. Laguna police director Sr. Supt. Eleazar Matta said Flores ranked 14th in the police’s high-value targets.

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In 2017, Damaso Amante, who authorities said ran the syndicate, was gunned down by unidentified men. Damaso was the brother of former San Pablo City mayor and clan patriarch Vicente Amante and an uncle of the incumbent mayor Loreto “Amben” Amante.

The Amantes were named among the alleged narco-politicians by President Rodrigo Duterte. (Eve Matta)