The Sibulan municipality in Negros Oriental announced yesterday that it is putting up a PHP200,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a woman wanted for drug charges and who has gone missing after she was “released under recognizance” by a court here.
In a press conference, Sibulan Mayor Jose Pepe Abiera and Councilor Antonio Renacia said the bounty is intended to locate the suspect, Maria Lovella Arevalo Calingacion, who has a standing warrant of arrest for a drug charge.
The reward money shall be taken from the Sibulan town coffers, Renacia said, adding that he is thankful the local councilors are supporting the move.
Calingacion, 41, recently went missing after she was released from detention under recognizance by the court. She was arrested last February for allegedly peddling shabu.
Renacia admitted that he vouched for Calingacio “in good faith” because he knows her family, being constituents of Sibulan.
He said he always believes that a person who has committed an offense should be given a chance to change, as he admitted it did not occur to him that the woman would just disappear.
After she was released, she reported regularly to the Probation Office, Renacia said, while her drug case was pending in court.
However, last June 14, Renacia learned on social media that Calingacion was arrested after suspected shabu was found concealed in her private part when she visited an inmate at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) detention facility.
Calingacion, however, was released from jail because the prescriptive period in filing a complaint had already lapsed.
It was only in late June that Renacia received word that Calingacion could no longer be located.
Visits by Sibulan officials to her parents and estranged husband, Bryan Calingacion, proved futile, claiming they have no idea as to her whereabouts.
After her disappearance, Judge Rafael Cresencio Tan Jr. of the Regional Trial Court Branch 30 issued an arrest order against Calingacion.
Calingacion was convicted for Violation of Section 12, Art. II of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, dated March 11, 2019, and was sentenced to two years and one day and minimum term to four years as maximum term of imprisonment.
The court also ordered her to pay a fine of PHP50,000.
Meanwhile, Renacia, being Calingacion’s custodian, faces a penalty of six months to two years imprisonment if he fails to deliver the accused before the court “without justifiable reason.”
Sibulan officials are confident that they can produce a “justifiable reason” as to the disappearance of Calingacion.
The court has ordered Renacia, along with Calingacion, to appear on Friday. ( Mary Judaline Partlow PNA via NDB)