CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY: Fr. Roniedon Valmoria, parish priest of Naawan, Misamis Oriental was released unharmed at about noon on Wednesday after a despondent choir member held him hostage for about four hours.
Valmoria, 53, was taken hostage by Loverton Ruedas, according to Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano, who had to rebook his flight for Manila to join local law enforcers in convincing the suspect to surrender peacefully.
Wearing a sleeveless white shirt and a bit shaken, Valmoria came out of the convent carrying a box contained a .45 caliber pistol with five live ammunition owned by Ruedas who asked him to turn it over to the law enforcers.
Minutes later, Ruedas came out of the convent with a police officer.
Misamis Oriental Police chief, Senior Supt. Rolando Destura, escorted Ruedas to a waiting vehicle and proceeded to the police provincial headquarters in Villanueva town where the suspect underwent tactical investigation and profiling.
Ruedas told investigators that he went to see Naawan’s chief of police Senior Insp. Jay Francis Estigoy after hearing that his cousin Melerton Ruedas was going to be arrested for failure to “accomplish a mission.”
Melerton was reportedly an “asset” of the chief of police in the campaign against illegal drugs in Naawan.
The suspect was reportedly accosted by the police officer after noticing a gun tucked on his waist that resulted in a brief shootout.
Ruedas ran to the church near the police station and took the stunned priest hostage.
Destura said the police would examine the papers which purportedly allowed Ruedas to carry firearms.
However, the police would still file the appropriate charges against Ruedas since no one is allowed to carry even licensed firearms under martial law which is currently enforced in Mindanao. CRIS DIAZ