KIDAPAWAN CITY—This city’s police chief and his deputy were relieved following an attack on the city jail that led to the killing of three people and the wounding of several others in what authorities said was an attempt to spring a former Moro guerrilla being held in the jail.
Fired were Supt. Chino Mamburan, city police chief, and his deputy, Senior Insp. Roland Dillera, according to North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Talino-Mendoza.
Mendoza said the relief was ordered by Senior Supt. Cornelio Salinas, police chief of North Cotabato.
The governor quoted the provincial police chief as saying police officers and men continued to be complacent despite the existence of intelligence reports warning of an attack on the jail by followers of Datukon Samad, alias Commander Lastikman, a former ranking Moro guerrilla leader who is detained in the jail.
“They have been remiss in their duties,” said Mendoza. The governor, however, did not identify the sacked officers’ replacements.
Gunmen attacked the jail past 10 p.m. last Sunday, using rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles.
A driver of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and two student volunteers were killed while 13 other persons were wounded, including jail guards and fire officers.
ICRC condemned the attack. “It’s ironic that the people who are out to help save lives during emergencies are the ones being killed. Let’s do something to stop this,” said Allison Lopez, ICRC media coordinator.
It was not known if there were casualties on the side of the gunmen, who failed in their mission to free Samad. Samad was arrested in Cotabato City on Dec. 23 and detained here in connection with several criminal cases that he is facing in regional trial courts in North Cotabato.
Samad is facing cattle rustling, highway robbery, extortion and kidnapping cases among many other criminal charges that are pending in court, according to Senior Insp. Elias Dandan, town police chief of Pikit.
Dandan described Samad as “slippery” who had eluded arrest until police from Cotabato City and Marines caught up with him during an operation against wanted men last December.
Dandan said Samad is also involved in the kidnapping of a German national in North Cotabato three years ago. He did not identify who the German victim was.
Von al-Haq, spokesperson of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said Samad is not a member of the MILF, which is currently in negotiations for a peace deal with government.
Al-Haq said the gunmen who attacked the jail in a bid to spring Samad are not MILF members, too.
“These are purely lawless elements who have no connection, directly or indirectly, with the organization,” Al-Haq said. Charlie C. Señase and Jeoffrey Maitem, Inquirer Mindanao