Fugitive Ilocos town ex-mayor sends surrender feelers

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BAGUIO CITY – Ilocos region police has received surrender feelers from former Cabugao, Ilocos Sur town mayor Edward Josh Cobangbang, 25, indicted last year with 15 other town officials and employees for serious illegal detention and grave coercion in connection with the 2017 forcible takeover of the Cabugao Beach Resort.

“He sent in surrender feelers,” admitted Ilocos region police director Brig. Gen Rodolfo Azurin, who met with at least 15 officials and employees of the Cabugao over the weekend last week after they turned themselves in at the regional office of the police in San Fernando City, La Union.

The 15 who gave themselves up last August 7th through the intercession of the fugitive mayor’s father, former Mayor Eduardo Cobangbang, are: Katrina Cruz Soriano, 33; Raquel Somera Ancheta, 51; Ednalyn Sabaten Silario, 46; Jessar Rei Siababa Cruz, 24; Constancia Lazo Quinola,61; Humprey Savellano Catriz, 39; Jerly Oda Manantan Flores, 24 Benny Sardeng Agbayani, 26; turned themselves in on Friday (August 6) and Kevin Segui Somera, 34; Austin Giorgio Soller Serna, 25; Alvin Silario Solis, 30; Ronillo Somera Santigo, 51; Renato Sabugo Roman, 57; Rexor Moisis Cruz Abara, 26; and  Richard Siruno Pula, 48.

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The 15 town officials and employees were reportedly pressured to give up when joint operatives of Cabugao police with the CIDG-Ilocos Sur, Regional Investigation and Detective Management Division (RIDMD), Regional Mobile Force Battalion 1 and Ilocos Sur Provincial Intelligence Unit launched a manhunt operation.

The elder Cobangbang however refused to talk journalists when asked when will his son surface and face his cases or when he will also turn in his son, the youngest elected town mayor in 2016 at 21, to authorities.

February 2019, the DOJ found out that on orders of the younger Cobangbang, town officials and employees, detained a resort operator and several employees during the closure of the resort.

DOJ Undersecretary Deo Marco favored resort manager Virginia Nicole Savellano-Ong’s complaint where she, her then four-year old son and several resort employees were “detained” and “bullied” when upon the younger Cobangbang’s orders,  the local government-owned Cabugao Beach Resort (CBR) be padlocked.

USec. Marco reversed an earlier panel of government prosecutors’ ruling that dismissed the charges. The DOJ also saw that all the elements of illegal detention case were present when Cabugao employees ordered by Cobangbang, headed to shut down the resort, padlocked some rooms, closed the resort gates and stationed several believed-to-be armed men on August 23, 2017.

Marco also decided that an earlier ruling by an Ilocos Sur Special Prosecutor finding probable cause for illegal detentions and grave coercion versus Mayor Cobangbang, town officials and employees stays as he found all the elements of these cases existed in the incident.

A Warrant of Arrest against the younger Cobangbang and 17 town officials and employees was issued on October 22, 2019 by RTC branch 12 of Sanchez Mira Cagayan Executive Judge Gemma Bucayu-Madrid.

By Hent

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