Naawan parish priest: “I never felt my life was in danger”  

NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 23 August) — “I never felt my life was in danger when I was with him,” Naawan parish priest Roniedon Valmoria said of the 33-year-old musician who held him for about two hours inside the convent of the San Labrador parish church on Wednesday.

Valmoria said he knew the suspect, Loverton Ruedas, who used to be a member of the parish choir.

“I can only talk about what transpired inside the convent when he came to me this morning,” the Valmoria said.

He recalled that Ruedas wept while they talked.

“He was scared that he would be killed by the policemen. I, too, was scared that there was already a sniper waiting for an opportunity to shoot Ruedas,” the priest said.

Valmoria said luckily cooler heads prevailed and it was resolved peacefully.

Naawan parish priest Father Roniedon Valmoria (left) talks to Monsignor Elmer Abacahin of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro about his two-hour ordeal with an armed gunman who sought asylum in his convent in Naawan, Misamis Oriental on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017. The gunman identified as Loverton Ruedas, a musician, later surrendered to the priest ending the stand-off at the San Labrador parish church in Naawan. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

Chief Insp. Francis Estigoy, Naawan police chief, said Ruedas had a brief altercation that resulted to a brief exchange of gunfire between him and policemen at the Naawan police station.

Estigoy said Ruedas, sensing the arrival of more policemen, fled to the convent just across the street from the police station.

He said once inside the convent, Ruedas allegedly held the priest for more than two hours.

“Father Valmoria clearly did not have the freedom to walk away from him,” Estigoy said.

Ruedas later surrendered to Father Valmoria after a negotiating team led by Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Emano arrived at the scene.

He said Ruedas surrendered a Chinese-made Norinco cal. 45 pistol with seven bullets.

Estigoy said they are filing an illegal detention case against Ruedas and possibly an illegal possession of firearms case if it is found that the pistols have no license.

Emano said Ruedas was an asset of the police who had a few run-ins with the law-enforcers.

Ruedas’ relatives, however,  told reporters that the musician is an upright businessman who owns a store selling musical instruments in nearby Manticao town.

They said Ruedas went to the Naawan police station to look for his relatives who were accused by the local policemen of being shabu pushers.

Policemen lead Loverton Ruedas out of the police station of Naawan, Misamis Oriental for transport to the provincial jail in Cagayan de Oro after he surrendered on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017. Ruedas, a musician, allegedly held parish priest Father Roniedon Valmoria after he had an altercation with local policemen Wednesday morning. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

Reuben Joseph Israel, an employee at the Naawan municipal hall said Ruedas and a policeman whom he identified as a certain Reyes, traded gunshots after a brief altercation.

“Reyes saw that Ruedas had a gun tucked in his waist. So he pulled his own gun and fired at Ruedas,” Israel narrated.

Israel said the shots missed and Ruedas ran across the street towards the convent when he saw other policemen coming to aid Reyes. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)