Court frees jailed Iligan mayor


ILIGAN CITY: The jailed mayor of this city was released upon the dismissal of multiple murder cases filed against him in connection with the December 11, 2014 ambush of the convoy of former lawmaker Vicente Belmonte Jr.

Mayor Celso Regencia finally walked out of prison on Monday after more than a year in detention at the Iligan City Jail in Barangay Tipanoy.

Regencia was accused of masterminding the ambush of Belmonte’s convoy while en route to Iligan city from Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental.

Charges of multiple murder with multiple frustrated and attempted murder were filed against Regencia and other suspects for the death of three of Belmonte’s escorts and wounding of three others, including the lawmaker.

Regencia was imprisoned at the height of filing of candidacy for the 2016 May election after he surrendered to Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 4 in Iligan City in October 12, 2015.

The mayor, a former police officer, won the mayoralty for a second term.

He is known as the “Duterte of Iliganon” and has massive supporters.

His supporters have been barricading the jail every time the mayor was brought out either for arraignment at

Regional Trial Court Branch 44 in Initao, Misamis Oriental (which has jurisdiction over his case) or transferred to Bicutan jail in Taguig City (Metro Manila).

Regencia was cleared of the charges last December 9, 2016 when the Department of Justice (DoJ) granted the motion to dismiss that he and his co-respondents filed.

In the resolution signed by senior assistant state prosecutors Rassendell Rex Gingoyon, Lillian Doris Alejo and Jorge Catalan Jr., officer-in-charge prosecutor general, also ordered the Quezon City Prosecutor to dismiss all filed information in the court related to the case.

The court also urged the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Philippine National Police and the National Police Commission to “initiate the necessary investigation and prosecution against those police officers who were involved in the planting of evidence, falsification of the blotter of the Laguindingan police station and the illegal arrest of Dominador Tumala so that similar incidents will not be repeated in the future.”
Belmonte, who was recently named by President Duterte as among alleged “drug lords” in the country, could not be reached for comment.


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