POLICE Regional Office 1 director Brigadier General Rodolfo S. Azurin Jr. yesterday announced the surrender of former Cabugao, Ilocos Sur Mayor Josh Edward Cobangbang and two of his men to face the criminal charges for serious illegal detention and grave coercion filed against them by a local resort operator.
Azurin said Cobangbang, lawyer Arvin Manaois and Engineer Crescencio Marcos presented themselves to him at the PRO1 headquarters in Camp Florendo in San Fernando City, La Union on Friday morning following talks with the police arranged by Cabugao Mayor Edgardo Cobangbang Jr. and Narvacan Mayor Luis “Chavit” Singson.
The official said Cobangbang and 19 Cabugao municipal employees during his term were slapped with the charges for allegedly detaining a businesswoman, her daughter and several employees during the closure of the woman’s resort.
Azurin said 15 of Cobangbang’s co-accused surrendered to the PRO1 that launched an effort to serve a warrant of arrest for serious illegal detention and grace coercion issued against them by Judge Gemma Bucayu-Madrid, of the Sanchez Mira, Cagayan Regional Trial Court Branch 12 on October 22 last year.
The accused were ordered to undergo a 14-day quarantine at Camp Florendo before submitting themselves to an RT-PCR test tomorrow.
The official commended members of the Ilocos Sur Police Provincial Office headed by Colonel Ronald Tagao and the Ilocos Sur Criminal Investigation and Detection Group headed by Lieutenant Col. Louise Benjie Tremoro for exerting all efforts to arrest the accused.
“This is a manifestation that your police is doing all its efforts to apprehend those who transgressed the law,” said Azurin.
Azurin said eight of the accused -- 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 on Friday last week. 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, turned themselves over to the local police the following day. The accused are facing a non-bailable offense for serious illegal detention.
The case was 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. The municipality, however, passed a municipal ordinance and refused 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 which prompted 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,” a Department of Justice resolution previously stated.