UNDER PROBE. Five men linked to a politically-motivated harassment incident in Looc village are detained at the Villanueva municipal police station in Misamis Oriental on Sunday evening (May 8, 2022). Three of them were confirmed to be regulars of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, which has assured an investigation into the incident. (Photo courtesy of Cyril Cambalon Jr.)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – The Army’s 4th Infantry Division (ID) here said Monday it would investigate election-related harassment involving soldiers in the Misamis Oriental town of Villanueva.

The Army's 58th Infantry Battalion (58IB) identified two of the five suspects as Corporals Joel Cabahug of Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental, and Client Japuz of Balingasag town.

Along with three other suspects, including a government militiaman and an Army private, Cabahug and Japuz were accused of election-related “harassment” in Barangay Looc, Villanueva town on Sunday night.

Maj. Dennis Cerilla, Villanueva police chief, said the suspects harassed the supporters of a Misamis Oriental gubernatorial candidate “by illegally searching the victims’ body for weapons, slapping the nape, and indiscriminately pointed a firearm in the faces of the victims."

The other suspects are identified as Pvt. Rey Hilogon, Citizen Armed Auxiliary member John Carlo Solde, and retired soldier Aladino Hulleza Layam.

Lt. Col. Ricky Canatoy, the 58IB commander, condemned the harassment and expressed disappointment over the suspects' involvement in the incident.

“This is an unfortunate thing to happen during this election period, especially since our soldiers are involved. We condemn all forms of criminal activity carried out and committed by some soldiers,” Canatoy said.

Cerilla identified the victims as Renz Ceasar Gelizon, Kay Jacob Uban, Bernabe Domi Ladica, Markhent Ubalde, and Gerry Baac, all of Barangay Looc, Villanueva.

Based on the initial investigation, Cerilla said the suspects introduced themselves as members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) when they accosted and accused the victims of illegally bearing firearms.

Police recovered from the suspects' possession two government-issued .45 caliber pistols, four magazines, one .38 revolver pistol, and military identification cards.

Meanwhile, Canatoy assured the suspects would face the consequences of their actions.

“We will also course through an investigation on this matter. Rest assured that they will be dealt with accordingly to the fullest extent,” he said.

The suspects are currently detained at the custodial facility of the Villanueva municipal police station for the filing of cases.

Suspected 'flying' voters

Meanwhile, more than 300 suspected “flying voters” in Lanao del Sur were escorted Sunday evening out of the province after finding out they were not registered voters in the municipalities of their destination.

Brig. Gen. Jose Maria Cuerpo, commander of the Army's 103rd Infantry Brigade, said in an interview Monday that about 80 of the 300 people were reportedly staying at a mosque in Buadiposo-Buntong town.

Cuerpo said the persons were verified to be from Baloi town in Lanao del Norte.

He said there were also cases of suspected flying voters in Balindong and Saguiaran towns. (PNA)