BUSINESSMAN and San Fernando mayoral candidate Ruben Feliciano admitted that the four armed men apprehended by military personnel in Barangay Bugho on Thursday, May 9, were his supporters.

But during a press conference on Friday, May 10, Feliciano denied allegations he ordered the four men to harass Bugho barangay councilor and aspiring town councilor Joy Resogento.

Feliciano even claimed that the shootout that occured in Barangay Bugho on Thursday was an attempted ambush on his life orchestrated by Resogento's goons.

But Resogento, in a separate interview, denied Feliciano's claim.

"That's a big lie. Why would he accuse me of hiring those people they were his in the first place," Resogento told SunStar Cebu.

Feliciano told reporters that he was supposed to hold a campaign sortie in Barangay Bugho on Thursday after some of his supporters requested him to be there.

Feliciano was supposed to hold a "pulong-pulong" at the barangay hall but was requested to transfer to another place.

But as he and his entourage were traveling to Resogento's place to hold their "pulong-pulong," Feliciano said he saw their sound system vehicle being fired upon by unidentified men.

Upon checking the situation, Feliciano saw some of the armed men being led by a certain Danny Baringian, a tanod of the said village.

He claimed that Baringian, who reportedly has an arrest warrant for an undisclosed crime, was leading armed men to ambush him.

When gunshots were heard, Feliciano's driver was able to maneuver his car out of the entourage and flee from Bugho.

“I was lucky that army personnel came to the area or I would have been killed,” Feliciano added, in Cebuano.

Personnel from the 47th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army were able to arrest four men namely Romeo Olis, 40, from Barangay Balud in San Fernando; Manuel Alidon,54, from Barangay North Poblacion, in the same town; Anastacio Solis, 50, from Barangay Pooc, Talisay City; and Prisco Tapales, 29, of Barangay Greenhills in San Fernando.

Though he admitted that the four men arrested by the 47th IB were his supporters, Feliciano denied he ordered them to carry firearms and cause trouble in the area.

Separately, Resogento told SunStar Cebu that Feliciano was lying when he denied he didn't cause the trouble in his village.

Sa iyang bahin, gihulagway ni Resogento si Feliciano nga usa ka bakakon sa iyang giingon dili siya ang nipasiugda sa kagubot sa ilang barangay.

Resogento said that aside from him, so many of his neighbors witnessed how Feliciano brought those armed goons in their barangay.

He said that since the campaign period started, Feliciano has threatened to kill him before his constituents and often announces his threats during his "pulong-pulongs" held outside of the village councilor's home.

Resogento is running as a town councilor under the slate of San Fernando mayor Lakambini "Neneth" Reluya.

"If he had no ill intention against me, why would he conduct pulong-pulongs outside of my house? He would even issue death threats against me because he claims I'm a drug protector," Resogento said, in Cebuano.

Resogento said he plans to file charges against Feliciano for harassment and grave threats.

Meanwhile, the Police Regional Office-Central Visayas (PRO 7) said the four armed men caught in San Fernando's hitherlands have been reportedly harassing residents there since the campaign period started.

"The people there were happy because according to their barangay captain, those men were part of an armed group that had been suspected of harassing them," said PRO 7 director Debold Sinas.

Sinas said they will be filing charges of illegal possession of firearms and violation of the election gun ban against the four suspected goons.

Sinas has also ordered the local police in San Fernando to conduct a deeper investigation on the shooting incident in Barangay Bugho to determine if it was politically-motivated.

Though he admits they already had a suspect in mind, Sinas said he won't reveal this even though Feliciano has admitted the four were his supporters.

Despite the incident, San Fernando will remain as an "Orange" Election Watchlist Area (EWA) as police has not seen any reason to raised it to the "Red" category. (AYB/ JKV)