Law enforcers are looking at possible “terrorist-related” activities in Negros Oriental following the confiscation of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and components during a series of raids at a sugar mill in Sta. Catalina town during the weekend.
Col. Thomas Valmonte, legal counsel of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), told reporters in a press briefing at the Dumaguete-Sibulan airport Sunday afternoon, March 26, that they will do a trace on the IEDs.
He believes the presence of these IEDs would indicate possible “terroristic” activity.
“If you possess that, there is an indication of an act of terrorism so we are looking at the angle of terrorism here and we will submit these explosives to our forensic group of the EOD (Explosives Ordinance Division) to determine if this is the signature of the communist or some terrorist groups from central Mindanao,” he said.
The CIDG led the raids at HDJ Bayawan Agri-Venture Corp. sugar mill compound in Barangay Caranoche, Sta. Catalina on Friday and Saturday, by virtue of a search warrant issued by the Mandaue City court.
On the first day, the operatives seized firearms, ammunition, and cash amounting to about P18 million.
The second day yielded IEDs and components and a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) ammunition, among other things, that were buried and retrieved with the aid of a backhoe, Valmonte said.
An initial report showed that the arms cache recovered in the past two days included six long firearms and 10 short firearms of different calibers, three pieces of IEDs and components, one RPG ammunition, 4,000 assorted live rounds of ammunition of various calibers, and money.
Three suspects were also arrested for alleged possession of illegal firearms during the search.
Valmonte said the arms cache, money, and the three suspects will be turned over to national government authorities in Manila.
A military aircraft arrived at the airport here on Sunday and transported the suspects, confiscated items and law enforcement personnel.
The CIDG lawyer identified the subject of the warrant as Pryde Henry Teves, the former governor of Negros Oriental and former mayor of Bayawan City.
Teves is the brother of Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. (Neg. Or., 3rd District), who is being linked to the killing of Gov. Roel Degamo and eight others in Pamplona town on March 4.
Rep. Teves’ foreign travel authority expired March 9 but he has yet to return, allegedly from the United States. He has been suspended for 60 days by Congress.
Valmonte clarified that the series of raids in Sta. Catalina is not connected to the Pamplona massacre but in line with the CIDG’s “Oplan Paglalansag (Dismantling)” against illegal firearms.
As of late Sunday, CIDG operatives were continuing the search at the sugar mill compound, with Valmonte saying he will be staying for a few more days until all efforts are exhausted to seize all illegal firearms and ammunition pursuant to the court warrant.
Meanwhile, Pryde Henry Teves, in his regular radio program in Dumaguete City Saturday, said that he is willing to cooperate with authorities.
He said he has even reached out to the Department of Justice already and will volunteer to present himself when necessary.
Valmonte welcomed the offer but did not expound on it.*PNA