Santa Fe Mayor says arrested men in Santa Fe not his bodyguards
Cebu City, Philippines — Santa Fe Mayor Jose Esgana denied allegations that the three armed men nabbed by operatives from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) last Saturday, March 23, worked for him.
“If they were really my bodyguards, how come wala may nakakita nga nagkiyog na sila sa akoa? (nobody saw them accompany me wherever I go?),” said Esgana in a phone interview with Cebu Daily News Digital.
Esgana claimed the arrest of Marilou Tan Ortega, Dic-se Capacite Arnibal, and Eliso Bula Cabrera for illegal possession of firearms in Barangay Marikaban, Santa Fe town was “nothing but a political ploy.”
“This is politically motivated. These people (who were arrested)? They belong to my enemies in politics. I don’t want to mention names but if you come to Santa Fe, there’s almost zero crime,” said Esgana, who is running for reelection in this year’s midterm polls in May.
Esgana also dismissed reports that he allegedly has a ‘private army’ in Santa Fe, one of the three towns comprising Bantayan Island that is located 132 kilometers northwest of Cebu City.
“If these were really true, then how come we were able to clinch the Peace Diplomacy Award for Law and Order, and other awards and recognition in relation to peace and order? ” he added.
The mayor was referring to the recent recognition received by the local government of Santa Fe from the International Peace Diplomacy Corps Inc.
The Santa Fe government bagged the Peace Diplomacy Alfred Bernhard Nobel Award for Peace and Order last February in a ceremony held at Makati City.
Armed with search warrants, police from CIDG, the Regional Intelligence Unit (RIU), and the Santa Fe Police Station, arrested the Ortega, Arnibal and Cabrera in Barangay Marikaban in Santa Fe on Saturday.
Superintendent Hector Quimson Amancia, acting chief of CIDG – Cebu City, said they received reports from concerned citizens that the suspects reportedly brandish their loose firearms around town.
Victim of politicking
A search warrant was issued by Judge Jineffer Singco of Branch 79 of the Regional Trial Court Bogo City for illegal possession of firearms against the suspects, who are now detained in CIDG – Cebu City.
Amancia said they also received unofficial reports that one of the suspects, Cabrera, reportedly worked as a bodyguard of Esgana while others were allegedly members of Esgana’s ‘private army’.
Cabrera’s sister, Rubina Bula, denied these allegations.
Bula said her brother’s arrest was politically motivated.
“Since 2016, Mayor Esgana has no private army. What you heard is not true. And my brother, he is only a victim of politicking in Santa Fe because our family supports the incumbent mayor,” Bulac said.
“(His arrest) is a product of politicking,” she added.
The firearms confiscated during last Saturday’s operation include a .45 pistol Colt, two caliber .38 revolvers, a caliber .22 magnum revolver, and a caliber .357 revolver, and several live ammunition. /bmjo
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