COTABATO CITY: Police and military operatives killed in a shootout a former village chairman turned gang leader in Maguindanao whose group allegedly engaged in gunrunning and illegal drug activities.
Major Esmail Madin, chief of the police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit – Maguindanao, identified the slain suspect as Marcos Manunggal, ex-village chair of Barangay Tee in Datu Salibo town and alleged leader of the Manunggal lawless group operating in the province.
Aside from gunrunning and the shabu drug trade, Madin said Manunggal’s group is also involved in extortion and gun-for-hire activities.
“The group operates in the towns of Datu Salibo, Shariff Aguak, and Mamasapano towns,” Madin told reporters.
Manunggal’s four alleged cohorts, identified as Mike Guipal Badrudin, Nadia Kero, Arbaiya Bangkong Mustapha, and Ali Ebrahim, were arrested in the law enforcement operation.
Two other suspects, identified as Datumanot Manunggal and Jaybee Mastura, managed to escape before the authorities arrived.
Madin said joint operatives of the CIDG-Maguindanao, Maguindanao police, and the Army’s 6th Infantry Battalion were about to serve search warrants on several members of Manunggal’s group in Barangay Tee at around 4 a.m. when the suspects fired at the approaching government forces.
“The government team fired back, triggering a brief encounter,” Madin said, adding that authorities managed to recover an M16 rifle, a BAR rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun, a .45-caliber pistol, various gun parts, and ammunition.
The arrested suspects are currently detained at the CIDG – Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao headquarters in this city.