DAGUPAN, Pangasinan - Fire broke out Thursday in two abandoned houses that were allegedly used as drug dens in this city.
The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) said they were alerted to the fire in Sitio Silungan, Barangay Bonuan Binloc at 2:45 a.m., but residents said the flames may have erupted as early as midnight.
Residents said they only noticed the fire after hearing crackling sounds and smelling smoke.
“Naglabasan yung mga tao … nagtulong-tulong kami kumuha ng tubig (People went out of their homes and helped in fetching water),” said Abdullah Ongao, a resident.
They found the concrete wall and metal gate of the property spray-painted with the words “Pusher’s Drug Den.”
It is not clear whether the fire was an accident or an act of vigilantism.
Saminodin Ongao, president of the area's Muslim Association, said the graffiti was not there when he made the rounds at the start of a 10 p.m. curfew.
“Ngayon lang din po iyan. Wala tayong idea kung sino,” Saminodin said.
The graffiti on the compound resembled the notes left near the corpses of seven drugs suspects, who were killed in a series of shooting incidents in Dagupan City since July 4.
Locals confirmed that occupants abandoned the fire-gutted houses after a drug raid there on October 22, 2015.
The houses were subjected to search warrants as part of police "One-Time, Big-Time" operation against illegal drugs and firearms.
Over a hundred operatives from Dagupan City police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency- Ilocos scoured the place.
The raid yielded P2 million worth of shabu, various firearms, some P111,000 in cash and several undocumented motorcycles.
Superintendent Christopher Abrahano, then chief-of-police, labeled the houses as drug dens.
“Natiyambahan pa natin na nangtatarya ng malilit. Ibig sabihin may mga customers na rin sila na pinapagamit sa lugar,” Abrahano explained.
Fourteen suspects arrested in the operation were charged with violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Superintendent Neil Miro, the current chief of Dagupan police, said they were still conducting surveillance operations to ascertain whether drug users frequent the houses.