ZAMBOANGA CITY -- A hold departure order was issued against former Basilan congressman Gerry Salapuddin after police authorities tried but failed to serve his arrest warrant on Saturday.
Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Ralph Lee issued the hold departure order Monday after he issued the warrant for Salapuddin's arrest last Friday.
The arrest warrant was issued against Salapuddin following his alleged involvement in the November 13, 2007 bombing of the Batasang Pambansa complex that killed Basilan Representative Wahab Akbar.
Senior Superintendent Cristeto Rey Gonzalodo, Basilan police officer-in-charge, said a team led by Superintendent Abubakar Tulawie proceeded to Salapuddin's residence Saturday in the village of Sumagdang, Isabela City to serve the warrant of arrest for multiple murder and frustrated murder.
"He (Salapuddin) eluded arrest. The police forces cordoned his house in Isabela City but he was not located there," said lawyer Quirino Esguerra Jr., the legal counsel of the family of Akbar.
Gonzalodo said Sumagdang village chief Noel Vergara and an occupant of Salapuddin's residence identified as Adzmar Hamsan stood as witnesses when the policemen searched the house.
Salapuddin is one of the seven accused in the bombing. The other accused are former Tuburan, Basilan mayor Hajarun Jamiri, Police Officer 1 (PO1) Bayan Judda, Benjamin Hataman, Adham Kusain, Ikram Indama, and Caidar Aunal.
Gonzalodo said he ordered the intensified conduct of intelligence surveillance and tracking operations to locate Salapuddin, who could be hiding in his other houses in Basilan province or in Zamboanga City or Quezon City.
The court has recommended no bail for Salapuddin's case.
Meanwhile, Basilan Governor Jum Akbar challenged Salapuddin to come out in the open and face the court if he is really innocent.
Akbar made the challenge as she said Salapuddin has sent some emissaries that include political leaders to relay his message that he has nothing to do with the November 13, 2007 Batasan bombing.
Akbar said she is leaving it up to the court to decide who are guilty and not guilty in the Batasan bombing.
Akbar, who urged the law enforcers to immediately effect Salapuddin's arrest, said she learned that the former congressman was in Basilan province few months ago.
However, Akbar said she has no information concerning the recent whereabouts of the former congressman. (Bong Garcia/Sunnex)