Terror suspects arrested in CDO before Tandag bishop’s ordination

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 8 June) – Police arrested on Wednesday two suspected members of the Maute Daesh-inspired terror group on the eve of the biggest religious activity here.

Supt. Lamuel Gonda, Northern Mindanao police spokesperson, said a joint PNP-Army task group arrested Eyadzhemar Abusalam y Duri, married and nurse by profession; and Dianne Catherine Palmitos y Yumang, married and also a nurse by profession, at a police checkpoint in Barangay Tablon here late Wednesday afternoon.

Gonda said Abusalam hails from Block 5, Lot 51, Phase 1, Labangon, General Santos City; and Palmitos, resides in Block 5, Zone 4, Solomon Subdivision, Barangay Lagao also in General Santos City.

A caliber .45 pistol and two hand grenades were seized from the suspect, Gonda said.

Their arrest came on the eve of the ordination of new Tandag Bishop Raul Bautista Dael.

Gonda said police investigators are checking whether the two suspects came to Cagayan de Oro to disrupt the ordination activity at the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral here on Thursday.

“Our assumption is they will commit possible activities during the ordination,” he noted.

Gonda said intelligence information gathered on the two suspects revealed they plan to bomb the Black Nazarene procession in Quiapo, Manila last January.

Three prominent religious leaders – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma and retired Bishop Nereo Odchimar – attended the ordination of Bishop Dael on Thursday

Father Teresito “Chito” Soganub, who was taken hostage for five months by the terror group, was also present, along with 5,000 priests, nuns and lay members.

Contacted by reporters on Wednesday of the possible terror threat, Archbishop Ledesma said the activity would push through “with prayers.”

The ordination went without a hitch last Thursday.

Gonda said intelligence operatives monitored the suspects gathering money and sending medical assistance to the Maute gunmen holding Marawi City last year.

He said the suspects were not included in the “Martial Law list” of possible suspects.

“These are the new guys who came low of the intelligence radar,” Gonda said.

The Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group is preparing to file criminal charges against the two for possible violation of Republic Act 9516 for illegal possession of a firearm and Republic Act 10591 for illegal possession of the grenades. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)