By Edwin Fernandez
CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao: Army troopers apprehended five men for possession of unlicensed high-powered guns and illegal drugs in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Friday afternoon.
Lt. Col. Benjamin Cadiente Jr., commander of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion, said in a report Saturday the five were caught in a joint operation carried out by his unit, the Army’s 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion, and local police.
Cadiente identified the suspects as Benjar Rajahpandalat, Datu Pong Mohammad, Pogi Abdullah, Theng Kiladan, and Sajid Nanding.
The operation was carried out after receiving a tip from concerned citizens about the suspects’ possession of guns and drugs proceeding to Barangay Tukanalipao, the site of the 2015 Mamasapano encounter that killed 44 members of the police’s Special Action Force in the municipality.
“They were on board a black Toyota Hilux with plate number DAJ 9972 and one blue XRM with license plate MC 3669 LK when intercepted by government forces at past 2 p.m.,” he said.
Seized from the suspects were one Bushmaster M16 rifle, two .45-caliber pistols, less than 1 gram of suspected shabu with an estimated street value of PHP5,000, several sets of shabu drug paraphernalia, assorted firearm clips, and ammunition.
“The intensified intelligence operations of our troops in close coordination with the police contributed to the successful apprehension of these personalities,” Cadiente said.
Government forces also recently neutralized three radicals from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters for possession of loose firearms and shabu and other illegal drugs in nearby Barangay Linantangan, Shariff Saydona Mustapha town.
Philippine News Agency