Iligan City mayor Celso Regencia freed
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Embattled Iligan City Mayor Celso Regencia walked out of jail on Monday, January 30, as the court granted his freedom in connection to criminal charges against him.
Regencia was accused of being behind the ambush on former Iligan Representative Vicente Belmonte Jr. as his convoy was about to leave the Laguindingan Airport compound in Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental, in 2014.
The mayor was facing multiple murder and frustrated multiple murder charges for the attempt on Belmonte’s life. He was incarcerated on Oct. 12, 2015, but still won the mayoralty election last year, serving his second term.
In a January 25 ruling, Judge Ferdinand Baylon of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 77, ordered the release of Regencia as he granted the motion of the Department of Justice to withdraw the information it filed in court regarding his case.
The DOJ reversed its previous resolution which caused the indictment of Regencia and at least 9 of his co-accused. (READ: Murder cases vs Iligan mayor dismissed)
The court also noted the participation of some police officers as the complaints against the respondents unraveled.
“In their desire to elicit confessions from a potential witness, the police went to the extreme of fabricating and planting evidence, and falsifying their police blotter. Once arrested and under their custody, the witness was convinced to execute confessions which became the basis for the filing of charges against the accused herein,” Baylon said in the order.
The court also urged the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and the National Police Commission to “initiate the necessary investigation and prosecution against those police officers who were involved in the planting of evidence, falsification of the blotter of the Laguindingan police station, and the illegal arrest of Dominador Tumala so that similar incidents will not be repeated in the future.”
Jose Pantoja, Iligan city information officer, said Regencia got hold of the court order on Saturday. The city jail warden, Jail Senior Inspector Omar Jalagat, implemented Baylon’s order on Monday.
Pantoja said Regencia surprised the City Hall employees by appearing at the flag-raising ceremony.
He said the mayor also went around the city to meet with the people. At noon, he went to the St. Michael Cathedral to attend a Holy Mass.
“Mayor Regencia did not expect that there is still justice in the country,” Pantoja said, adding that with his release, his faith in the justice system was restored.
As of Monday afternoon, Regencia took a rest and had himself examined by physicians. – Rappler.com