Image Credit: Philippine National Police

Filipino actor Julio Diaz was arrested in a town north of Manila in a drug buy-bust operation, Philippine media reported.

Diaz, a 59-year-old veteran dramatic actor, was nabbed on Friday while allegedly trying to sell meth, locally known as “shabu”, to someone who posed as a potential buyer. Police also arrested his driver Ronald Gomez, 35.

Diaz has featured in more than 50 films, include Trap, which earned a Cannes film festival award, and was also screened at the Dubai International Film Festival in 2015.

A police report showed that Diaz was a “high-value target” of the local police. Four sachets of suspected “shabu”, or meth, with a street value of P60,000 were seized from the suspects, along with various drug paraphernalia, and marked money.

Philippine news site Rappler reported that the evidence had been brought to the Bulacan Police Crime Laboratory Office for examination. Criminal complaints against the two suspects are being prepared, according to police.

Diaz, whose real name is Mariano de Leon, is known for his performances in films such as Sakay, Takaw Tukso, and Ma’Rosa.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer meanwhile reported that the actor had just completed clinical rehabilitation for substance abuse that was sponsored by fellow actor and now Bulacan Vice Gov. Daniel Fernando.

Diaz was on the list of drug users being monitored by the Meycauayan police in 2016.

He appeared in the movie Trap (Taklub), which was shown at the Dubai International Film Festival. The movie by Brilliante Mendoza, tackles the emotional devastation of three surviving families in the aftermath of the monstrous typhoon Haiyan that decimated the city of Tacloban. But he is best known for his portrayal of the Filipino revolutionary leader Macario Sakay who fought the Americans during the Philippine-American War in Raymond Red’s acclaimed Sakay in 1993. He also appeared in Flor Contemplacion Story (1995), Serbis (2008) and Kinatay (2009).

Police said they knew Diaz was sent to a drug rehabilitation centre, but was described as a “substance abuser and a drug pusher.”

At the time of his arrest, Diaz was unarmed, they added.

Diaz slowly receded from the spotlight and returned to public attention in 2016, when celebrities disclosed that he had a stroke and needed financial help. A deluge of support from both celebrities and private donors poured for Diaz’s medical treatment for brain aneurysm and hypertension. He was nominated for best actor in the Famas Awards of 1993 for his role in Bayani and in 1994 for his role in Sakay. He was also nominated for best supporting actor in the Gawad Urian Awards in 2009 for his role in Serbis and in 2011 for his role in Magkakapatid.