Ilocos Sur mayor faces raps for illegal detention

MANILA — An Ilocos Sur town mayor has been ordered arrested by a local court over the padlocking of a local beach resort with its operator and four-year-old son trapped inside.

In the two-page warrant, Cabugao regional trial court branch 24 Judge Raphiel Alzate directed the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation to arrest Cabugao Mayor Josh Edward Cobangbang and 18 others Tuesday for non-bailable case of serious illegal detention and grave coercion.

The warrant on the serious illegal detention case against the 24-year-old mayor specifically stated that the case is non-bailable. A separate warrant of arrest for the case of grave coercion against Cobangbang and others set the bail bond at P36,000 for each of the accused.

The RTC issued the orders after upholding the finding of probable cause by the DOJ in the complaint filed by Virginia Ong arising from the closure of local government-owned Cabugao Beach Resort (CBR) in 2017.

The DOJ granted the petition for review filed by Ong and reversed the April 23, 2018 resolution of the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office that dismissed the charges for lack of probable cause.

It reinstated the original resolution in January last year and the findings of probable cause by investigating Senior Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Adriano Cabida, which the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office reversed upon appeal by Cobangbang.

The DOJ held that the mayor and his men are criminally liable over the closure of CBR on Aug. 24, 2017 by virtue of a municipal ordinance that only authorized the local executive to negotiate with Ong for resolution of the dispute on the ownership of the resort.

It stressed that Ong, her son and some of her employees, were forced to stay in the padlocked resort until the following day after their lawyer and the police arrived. Benjamin Pulta/