Army to probe soldiers allegedly harassing political bet’s supporters in MisOr
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — The Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID) said it is dismayed by the alleged harassment committed by five persons, three of them active soldiers, in a Misamis Oriental town on the eve of Election Day, vowing to do its own investigation for possible sanctions.
According to a police report, the five personalities introduced themselves as Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) personnel and physically and verbally assaulted supporters of a political candidate in Purok 2, Barangay Looc, Villanueva town on Sunday night.
The suspects were identified as Cpl. Joel Cabahug, 34, of Gingoog City; Pvt. Reyboden Hilogon, 32, of Balingasag town, Misamis Oriental; Cpl. Clint Japuz, 32, of Gingoog; John Carlo Solde, 25, a member of the Citizen Armed Auxiliary residing at Balingasag; and Aladino Layam, 53, a retired soldier from Barangay Lumbia, this city.
Japuz is said to be assigned to the 4ID while it was unclear where the other active soldiers are based.
Police said the suspects allegedly harassed a group of five supporters of Misamis Oriental 2nd District Rep. Juliette Uy, who is running for governor.
The report said the suspects illegally searched the victims’ bodies for weapons, their cellphones taken while a firearm was pointed at them.
It added the victims were ordered to drop on the ground as they were forced to vacate the area.
Lt. Col. Michelle Olaivar, police spokesperson for Northern Mindanao, said it was not immediately known if the suspects were under the employ of another political candidate in the province.
The local police responded upon the request of a village official and arrested the suspects.
Taken from the suspects’ possession were two military-issued .45 caliber pistols, four loaded magazines for said firearms, a .38 caliber revolver handgun, and the soldiers’ identification cards.
Also confiscated was a red Toyota Rush mini-SUV bearing plate number KAG 4142.
Police said the suspects could be facing charges for violation of the election gun ban, grave threat, and violation of Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act, and robbery.
In a statement, Maj. Francisco Garello, 4ID spokesperson, said it is “unfortunate that there were soldiers involved in that incident.”
He said the 4ID is conducting its own investigation to verify the circumstances of the incident and for possible administrative sanctions.
“We will never tolerate any wrongdoings of our personnel. We will cooperate with the ongoing investigation of the PNP. The soldiers involved, if found guilty of violating the election laws and other directives particularly being a nonpartisan of the AFP, will face the consequences of their actions and will be dealt with accordingly, Garello added.
In a separate statement, Lt. Col. Ricky Canatoy, commander of the 58th Infantry Battalion, said he condemned the harassment and expressed his disappointment at the acts of the soldiers.
“This is an unfortunate thing to happen during the election period, especially [since] our soldiers are involved. We condemned all forms of criminal activity carried out and committed by some soldiers, and we will not tolerate the heinous acts of our erring personnel in our efforts to professionalize the Army,” Canatoy said.
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