By NITZ ARANCON
and LITO RULONA
ONE of the lawyers of Iligan Rep. Vicente “Varf” Belmonte Jr. over the weekend slammed the Misamis Oriental capitol over its position against the court order to transfer detained Mayor Celso Regencia to its prison facility in Cagayan de Oro.
There is nothing Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano can do about it, said Belmonte’s lawyer Rejoice Subejano.
“Wala man tay mahimo ana, i-comply nila ang order sa korte. Dili man mahimo nga mobalibad sila ug mo-ingon sila nga puno na kaayo ang ilang prisohan,” Subejano said.
Emano and Vice Gov. Jose Mari Pelaez earlier frowned over the order of Judge Marissa Estabaya of 44th branch of the Regional Trial Court in Initao, Misamis Oriental, to transfer Regencia from the city jail in Tipanoy, Iligan to the provincial jail in downtown Cagayan de Oro.
Emano and Pelaez said the provincial jail is highly congested, and the prison facility cannot handle a high-profile inmate such as Regencia.
Emano said he has tasked the provincial legal officer to submit the capitol’s position to the court in Initao once it receives a copy of the order.
But Subejano said the reasons given by the capitol officials were unacceptable.
“Dili makaefuse si Gov. Emano sa order sa korte kay bisan gani ang presidente sa Pilipinas, dili makaefuse sa order sa korte kay maba-od man kana,” Subejano said.
He said Regencia is under detention because of a case that stemmed from the December 2014 ambush of Rep. Belmonte near the Laguindingan airport in Misamis Oriental.
Subejano said since the ambush took place in Misamis Oriental, the case is under the jurisdiction of the 10th judicial region. Iligan City is under the 12th judicial region.
Cagayan de Oro city prosecutor Fidel Macauyag lauded Judge Estabaya’s decision, calling it “fair and within the bounds of the law.”
Macauyag said, “That is the rule. Kung asa na commit ang crime, didto pud ka nga sinumbong pwede ma-priso.”
Cagayan de Oro 2nd Dustrict Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said it would be “premature” for any official in Misamis Oriental or Cagayan de Oro to take a legal action.
“It would be best for the city if Regencia is not brought here. We don’t want to take the risk But we are not a party in interest in this case, and only Regencia is in the position to question and oppose his transfer,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said Regencia can argue in court that he is Iligan’s mayor, and he has continued to perform his mayoral functions even while in detention.
“The only way he can perform his functions is if he stays in Iligan,” said Rodriguez.
Meanwhile, Councilor Lourdes Darimbang said she has apprehensions about the likely transfer of Regencia to the provincial jail here.
“This is a high-profile case. We will be inviting security risks,” she said.
Darimbang said the court in Initao did not consider that the provincial jail in located in downtown Cagayan de Oro.
“This needs maximum security, and I don’t think that the jail management is prepared for something like this,” she said.
Macauyag said the peace and order outside the provincial jail would be the main responsibility of the police once Regencia is transferred there.
He said, “That is the law. If nothing happened in Iligan where he is being detained now, I think nothing will happen to him in Cagayan de Oro. We have the police, and it is their duty to maintain order in the area.”