WHERE IS LITO PIROTE? PNP still clueless on abducted ex-cop

PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde said illegal drugs is one of the angle they are investigating in the case of former police colonel Lito Pirote who was abducted on April 19, 2019 in Bacolod City. (Jennifer P. Rendon)

Two weeks after the abduction of retired Police Major Lito Pirote, the PNP has yet to make a breakthrough on his whereabouts and his fate.

Police Colonel Henry Biñas, Bacolod City police chief, said they have yet to identify Pirote’s abductors and their motives.

“We can’t conclude on the motive because we have yet to identify the suspects behind the alleged abduction,” he said.

Biñas made the statement on May 3, 2019 during a press conference with Philippine National Police chief General Oscar Albayalde at the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) headquarters in Camp Delgado, Iloilo City. 

While Biñas did not make any definitive answer on Pirote’s abduction, Albayalde said PRO-6 reports indicated that Pirote was on the police watchlist.

“Well of course, just to make things clear, allegedly ang sabi ng RD (PRO-6 regional director Brigadier General John Bulalacao) natin, siya ay nasa drugs watch list. So, we’re looking into the possibility that drugs may have something to do with it,” he said.

But Albayalde said it’s just one of the motives although it’s the most probable angle that investigators are looking into “since we could find no other angle.”

Pirote, who was linked to an P11-billion shabu shipment last year, was abducted while attending a family gathering inside a hotel in Bacolod City on Good Friday, April 19.

Biñas said that based on information provided by investigators of Bacolod City Police Station 2 and eyewitness testimonies, Pirote’s abductors wore tactical gear and masks when they broke into Metro Inn hotel where Pirote’s family gathered.

The suspects disarmed the hotel’s security guards and ordered the employees and guests to lie down on the floor.

Two of the suspects served as lookouts, while five proceeded to Pirote’s location and forcibly dragged him out of the hotel.

Witnesses also reported that Pirote tried to resist the kidnappers, but one of the suspects pummelled his head with a firearm butt.

Pirote was then pushed inside a white Toyota HiAce van with registration plate YS-4514 which immediately sped northwards.

Pirote retired from police service in January 2019 and was formerly assigned under the Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Group of the Philippine National Police.

Both PRO-6 and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency 6 (PDEA-6) debunked reports that Pirote could be the person referred to by President Rodrigo Duterte as the successor of the late Melvin Odicta Sr., Western Visayas’s top suspected drug personality.

Bulalacao said he had no idea that Pirote took over Odicta’s drug operation in the region.

Alex Tablate, PDEA-6 regional director, also sang the same tune.

“Medyo wala pa kaming definite info regarding sa alleged drug lord na pumalit daw kay Odicta but we have been continuously monitoring alleged drug personalities in the area,” he said.

Tablate said the PDEA-6 has no intelligence holdings against Pirote.