‘Jihadist’ awaits deportation-A A +A
Sunday, July 13, 2014
"JIHAD" preacher Robert Edward Cerantonio is now in the custody of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in Bicutan, Taguig City where he waits deportation.
Senior Superintendent Conrado Capa, Police Regional Office Central Visayas’s deputy regional director for operation, told Sun.Star Cebu on Saturday the 29-year-old Australian national, also known also as Musa, is at the detention center in Camp Bagong Diwa.
Cerantonio was arrested by police last Friday in Barangay Pajac, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu on the strength of a warrant of deportation.
The BI issued the order last Thursday night after the Australian government cancelled his passport on allegations that he has ties with Islamic extremists, making him an undocumented alien in the Philippines.
Capa said they will check how Cerantonio got past security in Cebu and how he was able to live in Lapu-Lapu City for several weeks.
Investigators are interviewing Joean Montayre, Cerantonio’s girlfriend, about his activities here.
Montayre of Tipolo, Mandaue City said Cerantonio came to the Philippines to conduct research on the country’s languages.
The 32-year-old freelance costume production designer was detained at the Casuntigan Police Station for an estafa case.
Capa said the public shouldn’t be alarmed about the presence of jihadists in the region since they’ve only been monitoring Cerantonio and there’s no evidence that he has engaged in any terrorist act.
According to a paper published by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence in April, Cerantonio’s Facebook page is the third most popular among foreign fighters in Syria. He converted to Islam from Catholicism at 17.
Meanwhile, an official of BI-7 who refused to be identified said they’ve received a gag order on Cerantonio’s arrest to prevent the spread of inaccurate information.
“This is a highly-classified case which should only be handled by high officials,” he said.
He said the Philippine National Police and the BI in Cebu and Manila didn’t share with them the information they’ve gathered about Cerantonio, who is said to have links to Islamic extremists and who advocates a jihad that includes suicide bombing.
But aside from these allegations, there is no complaint against him, he said.
In a related development, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza has ordered Senior Superintendent Armando Radoc, acting chief of the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office, to strengthen their intelligence and intensify their monitoring of suspicious personalities.
“It is my priority to make our people and our visitors safe here,” she said.
Although Cerantonio’s arrest should not be a cause for alarm for residents and tourists, Radoc said police will continue its monitoring and intelligence activities.
In a phone interview, Radoc said he has instructed barangay security personnel to also step up their monitoring and intelligence activities.
Radoc said Cerantonio went in and out of the apartment in Pajac discreetly.
The police official said it was Montayre who rented the apartment. He said neighbors got suspicious after noticing someone else was staying in the apartment apart from Montayre.
“They noticed someone turning on the lights or the air-conditioner even though the woman had left the apartment,” Radoc said.
According to the apartment’s caretaker, Montayre had been renting the apartment for six days when the arrest took place.
In their investigation, Radoc said no other suspicious persons went to the apartment.
Radoc asked hotel and resort security personnel to stay vigilant during their regular meeting last Friday. (DSM/EOB/RSB/Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 13, 2014.