POLICE Regional Office 1 director Brigadier General Rodolfo S. Azurin Jr. yesterday announced the surrender of 15 employees of the Cabugao municipal hall in Ilocos Sur wanted for serious illegal detention and grave coercion.
The PRO1 director said the 15 turned themselves in to face the charges filed against them and former Cabugao Mayor Josh Edward Cobangbang Jr. over the padlocking of a local beach resort with its operator, her four-year-old son, and several employees inside.
A warrant for the arrest of the accused and four others including Cobangbang Jr. was issued on October 22 last year by Executive Judge Gemma Bucayu-Madrid of the Sanchez Mira Regional Trial Court Branch 12.
Azurin said eight of the accused identified as Katrina Soriano, 33; Raquel Ancheta, 51; Ednalyn Silario, 46; Jessar Rei Cruz, 24; Constancia Quinola,61; Humprey Catriz, 39; Jerly Oda Flores, 24; and Benny Agbayani, 26, surrendered last Friday.
The seven others identified as Kevin Somera, 34; Austin Giorgio Serna, 25; Alvin Solis, 30; Ronillo Santiago, 51; Renato Roman, 57; Rexor Moisis Abara, 26; and Richard Pula, 48, yielded on Saturday.
Azurin said the 15 surrendered after members of the Cabugao Municipal Police Station, the local Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the PRO1 Regional Investigation and Detection Management Division launched a manhunt operation against the suspects in the alleged illegal detention case which took place during the closure of a local resort.
He said Cabugao Mayor Ed Cobangbang was also instrumental in the surrender of the 15.
“I am appealing to all wanted persons in Ilocos-Pangasinan region to surrender and submit themselves to the judicial process since the long arm of the law will eventually catch up with them,” Azurin said.
The accused are facing a non-bailable offense for serious illegal detention filed by Virginia Ong, the operator of the Cabugao Beach Resort, a property owned by the government and leased to Ong’s industrial partner Antonio Valera.
Court records showed that Ong took over the operation of the resort following Valera’s filing of a quit claim in 2016.
However, the town passed a municipal ordinance refusing to accept Ong’s payment for monthly rental.
When Ong was asked to vacate the property by the former mayor, she refused to heed the order prompting the official and his men to padlock the property trapping the woman, her four-year-old son, and several employees inside until the following day when their lawyer and the police arrived.
“While it is undisputed that the municipality owns the CBR (Cabugao Beach Resort), it is equally true that the power of a property (has) no authority to use force and violence to eject alleged usurpers who were in prior possession of it. They must file the appropriate action in court and should not take the law into their own hands,” stated a Department of Justice resolution.