Erning Bolivar ‘spotted’ in Iloilo City

Ernesto Bolivar

By: Jennifer P. Rendon

IS ERNESTO “Erning” Bolivar, Western Visayas’ top drug personality, hiding right under the police’s noses?

A few weeks ago, Bolivar, a native of Pototan town in Iloilo province, was allegedly spotted in a hotel in Iloilo City.

But when police checked the area, the alleged big-time drug personality was nowhere in sight.

While the report was negative, Police Brigadier General Rene Pamuspusan, Western Visayas police chief, said they will still monitor Bolivar’s presence in the region.

“I want our intelligence personnel to further validate the report of his alleged sighting in Iloilo City and other provinces in Western Visayas,” he said.

So far, Pamuspusan said there are no confirmed reports that the slippery Bolivar is in the area.

Despite earlier reported sightings, Bolivar has continued to evade arrest.

“Our personnel were told to be always on alert. Our main target is still for his neutralization or arrest,” he said.

Even before, the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) and the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO) stressed that going after Bolivar was never placed in the back burner.

Pamuspusan pointed out, though, there’s always a possibility that Bolivar has protectors from the police or business sectors.

“His hiding would not have prospered if they don’t have protectors. But definitely we have already cleansed PRO-6 with these protectors through the efforts of the previous commanders of these regions,” he said.

Pamuspusan is confident that Bolivar will be arrested during his stint.

Despite the combined efforts by the police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) tracking teams, Bolivar remains elusive.

The monetary reward of P500,000 for his arrest has apparently failed to hasten his arrest.

One reason why Bolivar continues to skirt arrest is his being highly mobile, Police Colonel Marlon Tayaba, then Iloilo police chief, earlier said.

Tayaba mentioned of several cities in Metro Manila and at least three Luzon provinces where Bolivar was spotted.

In January 2019, he reportedly went to Iloilo to visit his lover. He passed by Capiz province using a fake name.

“We’re not discounting the possibility that he had undergone plastic surgery or facial enhancement,” Tayaba said.

That guess is farfetched since his girlfriend reportedly underwent beauty enhancement procedures.

While Bolivar remains active in the illegal drug trade, his movements were clearly restrained.

Despite that, Bolivar is still financially able to fund his hiding. He recently sold two buildings in Molo, Iloilo City for P36 million.

In January 2018, police authorities almost caught up with Bolivar. But he again slipped from police arrest.

Last year, police said Bolivar had been all over Visayas and Luzon and had been spotted in Bicol Region.

In 2017, when police was hot on his trails, it was reported that Bolivar chose to remain in Panay area.

The Pototan local government unit (LGU) has pledged the amount of P200,000 for Bolivar’s arrest.

Two years ago, the PRO-6 announced that Bolivar will be their next target following the death of suspected drug personality Richard Prevendido.

Bolivar, 42 who used to reside in Barangay Guinacas, Pototan, Iloilo, was considered a sub-group leader of the Prevendido Drug Group.

He used to operate in Iloilo province while Prevendido and his other core members took Iloilo City as their territory.

While working for Prevendido, he also used to get drugs supply from the Odicta Drug Group.

The Odicta Drug Group used to be a formidable force in the illegal drug trade until the death of its leader, Melvin Odicta, Sr., and his wife Meriam on Aug. 29, 2016.

Bolivar was reportedly into gun-for-hire activities but he was never charged.

There were reports that he used to be Odicta’s hatchet man. He was allegedly involved in the killing of the husband of his live-in partner. However, the case was also settled.

Most of his cases were settled while he posted bail in other cases.

He is a respondent in Criminal Case No. 17-8454 for violation of Section 5, Article II, of Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002), which is a non-bailable offense.