OGER Pelonio and his wife lived a peaceful and private life during his five-year stay in Barangay Ocaña, Carcar City, so it came as a huge shock to his neighbors in Sitio Bonbon when intelligence officers from the military and the police served a search warrant on his doorstep last Thursday dawn.
“Sulod, gawas ra gud na siya sa ila. Di na makighalobilo namo diri sa mga tambay, private gud na siya (He didn’t mingle with us and was private),” a resident, who requested anonymity, told SunStar Cebu.
Pelonio, who told reporters that he was Roman Catholic, rented a room in an all-blue house beside the highway.
However, a neighbor who sometimes cleaned the house said that she didn’t see any signs that the man may have been one.
“Wala may krus. Wala’y birhen (Mama Mary), wa’y Sto. Niño,” she said.
One thing was certain with Pelonio, the residents said; he wore a bulky jacket even on the hottest of days.
“Di na mugawas sa balay nga di mag-jacket. Kung kami maghubo-hubo, kana siya naka-jacket gud,” a resident said.
Three types of guns were seized from him, two caliber .45 pistols, a caliber .38, and an Ingram.
Another resident also claimed that he saw Pelonio standing in front of a mall in a certain town.
A hand grenade, two rifle grenades, bomb-making materials including a sketch with instructions on how to make a bomb were also seized from Pelonio.
A neighbor also said that Pelonio often went on early morning trips and arrived home late in the afternoon using his van-type multicab and motorcycle.
“His wife told us once that they’ll go on a trip to the south. Maybe because she said she (wife) was from Boljoon,” the neighbor said.
Pelonio, in an interview inside the Criminal Investigation and Detection (CIDG) 7 office, said that he has two sons, one of whom works abroad.
He denied that he owned the illegal items that were seized and that he was a member of the Abu Sayyaf terror group.
“I’m too old and sick with arthritis and diabetes. I served the army for almost 10 years so why would I be an Abu Sayyaf?” he said in an earlier interview.
A barangay official and a tanod who both asked not to be named revealed that Pelonio also used the name of the owner of the place he was renting during a profiling of a barangay health worker last month.
“Wala siya motug-an sa iyang real name. Kuya Roger iyang pangalan og mupalit siyag lotto,” the barangay official said.
“Wala mi kaila gani ana niya. Mag Manong rami ug Tatay kay hilomon man niya strikto,” another resident said.
Pelonio and his wife reportedly rented a house in Sitio Lagang for two years before they moved to Bonbon, where they stayed for three years until his arrest.
When asked if they saw any signs that Pelonio was allegedly a suspected Abu Sayyaf member, one of the residents shivered.
“Kung nakahibaw pa lang mi, kami gud unta mopadakop niya,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Central Command (Centcom) will conduct a joint inquiry with the police on the possible connections of the suspected Abu Sayyaf member.
The Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) personnel yesterday coordinated with Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) 7, the lead unit in arresting Oger Roma Pelonio.
Col. Medel Aguilar, Centcom spokesperson, said they will trace where the suspect got the explosives.
The Anti-Cybercrime Group 7 will check the cell phones for more information on the suspect.
Aguilar assured again the public yesterday that Central Visayas is still safe.
“We are happy to announce na in many attempts we’re able to prevent, like the Bohol incident na neutralize natin ang lahat ng 11 personalities, but of course this happened with the support of the people,” he said.
In April 2017, Abu Sayyaf members’ plans to abduct foreigners in Inabanga, Bohol were foiled after residents reported their presence to the police. Clashes ensued, claiming the lives of four government troopers, 11 terrorists and two civilians.
Early this week the British Government issued an updated travel advisory advisory discouraging British nationals from traveling to Southern Cebu “up to and including the municipalities of Dalaguete and Badian, due to the threat of terrorism.”
Other parts of the country, including Palawan, western and central Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, were also included in the advisory that was posted on website gov.uk. JOB/KAL