A suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf terror group, accused of threatening bombings to extort businesses, has been arrested in Carcar City.
Oger Roma Pelonio, aged 69, was detained early this morning (Thursday, August 16) following a joint operation conducted by the police and military.
The 3am raid on his rented home in Carcar City’s Barangay Ocaña yielded a number of unlicensed firearms and ammunition.
Confiscated from Pelonio, also known as “Aktoy,” were two loaded .45-calibre pistols, an Ingram sub-machine gun with bullets, two rifle grenades, a loaded .38-calibre handgun, fragmentation grenade, and suspected C4 explosive.
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Central Visayas said several “subversive documents”, cellphones and religious materials were also taken from the suspect’s house, which has shared with his wife for five years.
Pelonio was allegedly involved in extortion activities in the southern part of Mindanao. When politicians and businessmen would not give in to his demands, he would allegedly set off an explosive.
The suspect had reportedly started to extort money from fast food chains in some parts of Central Visayas before his arrest. He allegedly threatened to set off a bomb outside the establishment if his demands were not met.
In an interview with the government-run Philippine News Agency, Pelonio denied ownership of the firearms and ammunition seized from his home. “They’re not mine. Maybe the landlord owns them,” he said.
He also denied being a member of the Islamic State-affiliated terror group, saying he was just a scrap metal seller. He also claimed that he was a Christian and not Muslim.
He also said that although he was from North Cotabato, he had not set foot in Mindanao for almost 40 years.
In the course of the interview with PNA, Pelonio admitted that he had business links with the former mayor of Lamitan, in Basilan, who is now the vice mayor. He described how Vice Mayor Roderic Furigay used to buy construction materials from him.
However, he denied visiting Basilan — an island stronghold of Abu Sayyaf — and said he negotiated with Furigay through cellphone calls and text messages.
Pelonio had been under surveillance for the past five days and is now being interrogated by Army and police intelligence officers.
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