heavily-armed men, led by the mayor of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguinda-nao, who was among the subject of President Duterte’s ultimatum to surrender within 24 hours last August for alleged involvement in illegal drugs, were killed in a gunbattle with Philippine National Police agents in Makilala, North Cotabato, yesterday morning, officials said.
A report to PNP chief Director General Ronald “Bato” M. dela Rosa said combined operatives of the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group and the Regional Public Safety Battalion 12 encountered the group of Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom while they were passing along a checkpoint set by the officers in Bgy. Old Bulatukan, Makilala town, at 4:10 a.m.
The checkpoint was established amid information that the group of Mayor Dimaukom will transport illegal drugs to Maguindanao and Cotabato areas, said PNP-AIDG director Senior Supt. Albert Ignatius D. Ferro.
“Our men were forced to retaliate when the heavily-armed suspects, who were on board two vehicles, began firing at them,” said Ferro of the encounter which produced the single biggest number of slain drug suspects in a single day so far under the Duterte administration.
The wounded suspects were taken to Ma-kilala Specialist Hospital where they were declared dead upon arrival by attending physicians.
Police Regional Office 12 deputy regional director for operations Senior Supt. Leonardo R. Suan said that recovered from the possession of the slain suspects were an M-16 automatic rifle, three cal. .45 pistols, a 12-gauge shotgun, a cal. .38 revolver, dozens of assorted magazines and ammunition and 13 plastic sachets containing suspected shabu.
Two vehicles carrying the suspects -- one Land Cruiser and one Toyota Super Grandia -- have been subjected to an examination by the PNP Crime Laboratory to determine the actual position of the slain suspects when they fired their guns, said the PRO12.
Last August 7, Mayor Dimaukom was one of the eight Maguindanao local officials who flew to Manila to promptly comply with President Duterte’s order for them to surrender within 24 hours to Gen. Dela Rosa.
Apart from Dimaukom, the seven others are Mayor Rasol Sangki of Ampatuan town, Mayor Montasir Sabal of Talitay, Mayor Vikman Montawal of Datu Montawal, Mayor Norodin Salasal of Datu Salibo, Vice Mayor Abdulwahid Sabal of Talitay, Vice Mayor Oto Montawal of Datu Montawal, and Vice Mayor Nida Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan.
The eight were among the dozens of government officials, including mayors, judges, policemen, soldiers and a few ranking military officials, named by President Duterte as alleged involved in illegal drugs trading.