Thousands support jailed Iligan City Mayor Regencia
lLIGAN CITY, Philippines – Close to 3,000 residents here flocked to the streets and joined a prayer rally to call the attention of the national government to the plight of its mayor, Celso Regencia.
Regencia is currently detained at the Iligan City Jail for the alleged ambush of former congressman Vicente Belmonte and his bodyguards on December 11, 2014. It resulted in the death of 3 of Belmonte’s bodyguards – PO3 Marcus Andres, Ian Dumaguing (driver), and Eustique Silanan, Belmonte’s close aide. He faces charges of murder and attempted murder.
Belmonte survived the attack on his two-vehicle convoy as they were traversing the access road of Laguindingan Airport in Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental.
Regencia, who ran for reelection in 2016 even behind bars, won by a landslide; his party swept the city council, winning 10 of the 12 seats.
City acting mayor Monsignor Jaymar Vera Cruz said that the national government should look into their petition to reinvestigate the case of Regencia.
“The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG-10) star witness has lost his credibility having two affidavits with conflicting versions,” Vera Cruz said.
Danilo Tumala, one of the alleged assailants, was caught by the CIDG 7 days after the ambush in the vicinity of the ambush site in barangay Liberty.
Then CIDG-10 director Alex Tagum said that Tumala didn't know the area well. “He was hiding in the bush,” was all Tagum said.
Prior to his arrest, Regencia went into hiding and was subjected to a manhunt, eventually surrendering to authorities on October 11, 2015.
This city’s residents have prevented the transfer of Regencia from the Iigan city jail to the Misamis Oriental Provincial Jail-Initao. The Supreme Court ordered his transfer to Bicutan Jail in Taguig City.
Residents here said they believe Regencia is a victim of narco-politics. Regencia was a former police officer, chief of the city police before his retirement and eventual entry into politics.
“When Regencia became mayor, he immediately worked on the drug trade in the city, going after drug lords, and we think that is why Regencia is a victim of narco-politics,” Joe Pantojo, the city information officer said.
Pantoja added that the voice of the people deserves to be heard, “Their demand for a petition for review, having filed a petition should be given attention by the court,” Pantoja said.
Pantoja also added that the 4 investigating policemen have recanted their affidavits because of orders of their superior to put Tumala on the crime scene and the weapons used.
“We call on Secretary of Justice Vitaliano Aguirre to review the case of Mayor Regencia, there is enough evidence that Regencia is innocent,” Pantoja said.
Vera Cruz said that he already talked to President Rodrigo Duterte about the plight of Regencia, “Off course, the President has so much to do at the national level, that’s why we are calling on Secretary Aguirre,” Vera Cruz added.
“The people of Iligan deserve the services of Regencia, that’s why he won overwhelmingly, he deserves justice,” Vera Criuz said. – Rappler.com
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