Freeman Region

S. Leyte Incident: Cebu court orders arrest of 1 of 2 men for gun raps

Gregg M. Rubio - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — The Regional Trial Court in Cebu City has ordered the arrest of one of two men, who are facing two counts of illegal possession of firearms and for violation of election gun ban in Tomas Oppus town, Southern Leyte in 2016.

Cebu City RTC-Branch 7 Judge James Stewart Ramon Himalaloan heard the case for the first time since it was transferred from Maasin City, Southern Leyte, upon the petition of the complainants before the Supreme Court.

Only accused Porferio Lucino, a barangay captain of Canlupao in Tomas Oppus, appeared during the hearing last Friday, but co-accused Reynaldo Cabungcag, a resident of Viking in Mambaling, Cebu City did not.

This prompted the judge to issue a bench warrant of arrest against Cabungcag and the cancellation of his surety bond. Also to be issued is a subpoena for bondsmen Myrna Orbis of Canlupao, Tomas Oppus, and the surety company in order to bring Cabungcag to court.

The court will also issue a subpoena to Senior Inspector Mark Turingan, the town’s chief of police during the incident, to turn over the confiscated firearms from the accused on or before the next hearing on March 4, 2019.

The case stemmed from the joint complaint filed by Celso Torion, barangay captain of Hinagtikan; Rene Quisada and Romel Obra, both of Barangay Cawayan; and Bonifacio Diez of Barangay Maanyag, all of Tomas Oppus town.

Quisada, during the hearing last Friday, testified in court that, at about 6:30 a.m. on election day (May 9, 2016), he— together with Torion, Obra and Diez— on board a van responded to report that the supporters of mayoralty candidate Cerilo Tambis Jr. at Barangay Canlupao were allegedly harassed by supporters of incumbent Mayor Agustin Escaño.

Tambis was the only candidate of  Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) in the entire province, while the rest of the candidates belonged to Liberal Party in the 2016 elections.

Quisada said that when they arrived at the waiting shed of Barangay Canlupao, they noticed Lucino carrying a pack bag and a male companion also with a sling bag. Moments later, Quisada said they saw protruding from Lucino’s bag a barrel of a gun, while a handgrip of a firearm was also protruding from his companion’s bag.

This prompted Quisada to accost Lucino and companion, who in turn resisted. But Torion and Diez were able to grab Lucino’s bag, which turned out to contain a .9mm (Ingram) gun with silencer, and a magazine loaded with 24 live bullets.

Quisada and Obra also grabbed the bag of Lucino’s companion and was found to contain a .45-caliber (Colt) pistol Model of 1911 US Army with two magazines, each loaded with 14 live bullets.

Quisada, in his testimony in court, further said that they immediately arrested the suspects, through citizen’s arrest, and brought the latter to Barangay Looc to report the incident to their party leader, Rey Tambis, brother of Cerilo.

They then called the Municipal Police Station and its police chief Turingan, and turned over the suspects to the station where Lucino’s companion was then identified as Cabungcag.

On October 19, 2016, the 46-year-old Torion was murdered in front of his 8-year-old son by a suspected hired killer at Barangay Looc, the next barangay from where the victim was serving as chairman. He was shot twice by two men riding on a blue motorcycle, and hit on the forehead and the left side of his body. He died on the spot.

The killing of Torion prompted the complainants to plea for the transfer of the hearing of the case to Cebu City. Quisada added that there was also an attempt to shoot him once, but he was able to hide.

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