CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — The top official of the Philippine Army’s 58th Infantry Battalion has vowed to conduct thorough investigation against soldiers allegedly involved in a harassment incident in Looc village, Villanueva town in Misamis Oriental on Sunday night, May 8.
In a statement released on Monday, May 9, 58IB confirmed that two of the five harassment suspects were active members of the unit, namely Cpl. Joel Cabahug of Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental and Jr. and Cpl. Client Japuz of Balingasag town of the same province.
The Villanueva town local police also identified the other suspects as Pvt. Rey kden Hilogon of Balingasag town and an active member for the 4th Infantry Division; John Carlo Solde of Balingasag and a member of Citizen Armed Auxiliary (CAA); and, Aladino Hulleza Layam of Lumbia, Cagayan de Oro and a retired soldier.
Lt. Col. Ricky Canatoy, commanding officer of the 58th Infantry Battalion, condemned the harassment and expressed his disappointment, considering that it is the law enforcement that must provide security for the national and local election.
“This is an unfortunate thing to happen during this election period, especially that our soldiers are involved,” said Canatoy.
“We condemn all forms of criminal activity carried out and committed by some soldiers, and we will not tolerate the heinous acts of our erring personnel in our efforts to professionalize the Army,” added Canatoy.
In their initial investigation, Maj. Dennis Cerilla, the chief of Villanueva town police, said in his report the suspects harassed the supporters of a Misamis Oriental gubernatorial candidate ‘by illegally searching the victims’ body of weapons, slapping the nape, indiscriminately pointed a firearm in the faces of the victims, ordered to drop on the ground, coerced to vacate the place and forcefully grabbed the cellphone,” the report from Villanueva police said.
Barangay Looc Kagawad Armi Jabinaio immediately reported the incident and asked for police assistance.
Police identified the victims as Renz Ceasar Gelizon, Kay Jacob Uban, Bernabe Domi Ladica, Markhent Ubalde and Gerry Baac, all are legal age and residents of Barangay Looc.
Police investigation also revealed that the suspects introduced themselves as members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) as the victims were allegedly having firearms.
The authorities have recovered from the possession of the suspects two high capacity government issued .45 caliber pistols, four magazines, one .38 revolver pistol and AFP identification cards.
Canatoy assured the suspects that they will be facing the consequences of their action.
“We will also course through an investigation on this matter. Rest assured that they will be dealt with accordingly to the fullest extent,” he said.
Maj. Francisco Garello, the spokesperson of the 4th ID, echoed Canatoy’s statement and stressed the consequences if the suspects were found guilty.
“The soldiers involved if found guilty of violating the election laws and other AFP directives particularly being a non-partisan will face the consequences of their actions and will be dealt with accordingly,” Garello said.
The suspects are currently detained at the custodial facility of Villanueva Municipal Police Station for filing of cases.