CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/07 December) – Police have charged the lessee and the owner of the lot where the entrance of the 86-meter tunnel beneath the city jail was discovered for violation of the National Building Code.
Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo had ordered the city police office to launch a no-nonsense investigation on the tunnel during his ocular visit at the city jail in Barangay Lumbia last November 23.
Lumbia Police Station commander Senior Inspector Joel Nacua told reporters last Friday that they had filed cases against Christopher Moreno, the lessee, and Consuelo Aberasturi, owner of the lot.
In an earlier interview, Nacua had said that he suspected that Moreno was a fictitious name. The name appears in the copy of the lease contract.
Nacua said Moreno wrote Vamenta Subdivision, Barra, in Opol, Misamis Oriental as his address. However, when police operatives checked the address, it was learned that Christopher Moreno was only an alias.
Nacua added he was able to get hold of documents which bore Moreno’s real name: Jewateddy A. Alpeche. He said Alpeche is a resident of 4th St., Mega Road Heights, Barangay Tubod, Iligan City.
He also said they decided to include the owner of the lot, Aberasturi, in the case.
“We included her in the charge sheet because she is listed as the owner of the lot. It is up to her to clear her name in court,” Nacua said in a text message over the weekend.
The police official said that in the copy of the contract of lease between Aberasturi and Alpeche, the lot is supposed to be developed into a stockyard for fertilizers and seedlings allegedly funded by the United Nations.
According to their investigation, Alpeche is a hired contractor and is a known miner in Iligan City.
Nacua said they are monitoring three local influential personalities who they suspect to have funded the digging of the tunnel. But he explained that he could not divulge names since it might jeopardize their ongoing investigation.
On November 15, jail officers noticed a corrugated cable jutting out from the ground near a building inside the city jail. When they checked further, they discovered an 86-meter tunnel underneath the jail compound.
City Jail Warden Superintendent Clint Russel Tangeres said the two-meter-wide tunnel was near completion and appeared to be well-funded and well-organized.
Tangeres told local reporters that the digging must have been going on for at least five months. A makeshift shed 170 meters away from the jail hid the tunnel’s entrance.
Had it reached the compound, he posited, the tunnel would have led directly to the cell blocks of Batang Mindanao, Batman gang and the Reception and Diagnostic Center (RDC) that holds high profile convicts that included the two Swedes serving life imprisonment for human trafficking, two Chinese also serving life for drug trafficking and a police officer arrested for rape and drug trafficking.
Robredo, during his ocular visit at the site last month, concurred with Tangeres’ assessment of the tunnel.
“It is possible that a rich and powerful person is behind the digging,” Robredo told reporters in his visit last month. (Cong Corrales/MindaNews)