Bukidnon village chief nabbed, arms seized

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—A village chief is facing charges for allegedly possessing several firearms and ammunition, which were confiscated by authorities after raiding his home, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-10 (CIDG-10) said Saturday.

Arrested was Eliazar Ebona, chairof Barangay Gango, in Libona, Bukidnon, by operatives of the Martial Law-Special Action Group (ML-SAG), on Friday (Oct. 6).

Seized from Ebona’s possession were an M16, an AK47, and two M22 rifles; a caliber .45 pistol; bullets; a bulletproof vest; and an estimated five kilograms of suspected ammonium nitrate, said the ML-SAG, composed of personnel from the CIDG-10, Phil. National Police and Phil. Army’s 4th Infantry Division.

The raid ensued after complaints from Ebona’s neighbors who accused him of threatening them. The suspect is allegedly involved in illegal mining activities in his village, a known mining area in Bukidnon.

SPO4 Noel Oclarit, chief investigator at CIDG-Cagayan de Oro, said the village official will be charged with illegal possession of firearms and ammunition (RA 10591) and illegal possession of explosives (RA 9516).

Oclarit said the suspect has been seen several times carrying long firearms in his village, prompting the CIDG to conduct surveillance operation.

He said most of the seized firearms are unlicensed, while the others have yet to be verified at the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame.

Oclarit said they have reason to believe that the ammonium nitrate–
commonly used as a component in fertilizers but also in making improvised explosive devices–
seized from the suspect was being used for mining activities.

In an interview with reporters, Ebona maintained his firearms were all licensed and that these were his means of defense against the threat of the communist rebels. He said he used to be a member of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU).

For his part, Libona Mayor Leonardo Calingasan said he did not expect that Ebona would be arrested since the suspect was a law-abiding person.

Calingasan said Ebona is even the president of the town’s Association of Barangay Councils and one of the mayor’s partners in Libona’s anti-drug campaign. Jigger Jerusalem/PNA-northbound.comasia