By HERBIE GOMEZ
Editor in chief
and LITO RULONA
THE capitol yesterday frowned over a court order to transfer detained Iligan Mayor Celso Regencia to the Misamis Oriental jail, calling the local chief executive a “high profile” personality who could cause the spillover of political unrest from Iligan to Cagayan de Oro.
“We have to decline because we cannot handle a high-profile case such as that. Our facilities are not enough, and our jail warden is worried,” said Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano.
Emano said this a day after Iligan Councilor Emmanuel Salibay confirmed that Judge Marissa Estabaya of the 44th branch of the Regional Trial Court in Initao, Misamis Oriental, ordered Regencia moved from an Iligan city jail to the Misamis Oriental governmentun prison facility in downtown Cagayan de Oro.
Regencia has been placed under detention in connection with the shooting deaths resulting in the ambush of Rep. Vicente Belmonte Jr. near the Laguindingan airport in Misamis Oriental in December 2014. The mayor stands accused of masterminding the attempt on Belmonte’s life and the shooting deaths.
Emano said he would task provincial legal officer Cecilia Faelnar to explain the capitol’s position in court.
Vice Gov. Jose Mari Pelaez said he was apprehensive because “if something happens as a result of the transfer, we will be blamed.”
Pelaez also said he feared a spillover of political demonstrations from Iligan to Cagayan de Oro if Regencia is transferred here.
“If it is a court order, then we cannot defy it. But the reality is that the provincial jail is already highly congested, and this could cause traffic congestions and disturbance in the city,” he said.
Pelaez pointed out that the provincial jail is located near a commercial area, a string of government offices, including the capitol, and regional courts.
Pelaez also said Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental have had enough of local politics already that the last thing residents need is the political dynamics from a neighboring city spilling over here.
“If we can have a say, then we do not favor that,” Pelaez said. “It’s going to be our headache… and we will end up as collateral damage.”
Pelaez said he would check if the capitol has a legal personality to intervene in view of the recent court order.