By Froilan Gallardo
Cagayan de Oro City—Former Iligan Mayor Celso Regencia, who has been in hiding because of his alleged involvement in the ambush of Rep. Vicente Belmonte, surrendered to authorities Monday morning, the National Bureau of Investigation said.
NBI regional agent in charge Alex Caburnay said Regencia surrendered to officials of the Iligan City Jail after hiding for almost two months, \after a court issued warrants of arrest against him and 10 others.
“I commend the decision of the mayor to trust our judicial system by submitting himself to the jurisdiction of the court,” Caburnay said.
The Regional Trial Court Branch 44 in Initao, Misamis Oriental issued the warrants for three counts of murder and six counts of frustrated murder against Regencia; his bodyguard, Police Officer 3 Alfeo Arnoco, Amado Baller, Rogelio Pitos Sr., Romeo Suganob, Peehay Capanpagan, Julito Oros Ansad, Dodo Silvano and Rogelio Pitos Jr.
Arnoco went on absence without leave and also went into hiding along with the rest of the suspects.
Several gunmen ambushed the convoy of Rep. Belmonte after it left the Laguindingan Airport in Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental last Dec. 11, 2014.
Three of Belmonte’s bodyguards were killed in the ambush, while the congressman and five others were wounded.
Pursuit operations later arrested one of the gunmen identified as Dominador Tumala of Osmeña town, Zamboanga del Norte who provided the court with the details of the ambush plans and Regencia’s alleged participation.
Before he went into hiding, Malacañang have suspended Regencia for 60 days for abuse of authority after allegedly stripping Iligan Vice Mayor Ruderic Marzo of his authority to appoint casual employees at the Sanggunian Panlungsod.