Sultan Kudarat town councilor, wife killed in police anti-drugs operations
DAVAO CITY— A town councilor in Sultan Kudarat and his wife were killed in an anti-drugs operation in General Santos on Saturday, police said.
Regional police director Chief Supt. Eliseo Rasco said Monday that Noren Balawag Apil, 54, an official in Palimbang town in Sultan Kudarat; and his wife Juliet Bitayo, 46, allegedly opened fire at policemen who were supposed to serve them a search warrant at their house in Barangay Fatima in General Santos City around 10:00 p.m..
Rasco said Apil, who was in President Duterte’s drug watch list, had long been under surveillance for alleged involvement in the illegal drugs trade.
“Both of them resisted, took their handguns and opened fire towards approaching cops. Bitayo was a level 1 target drug personality while Apil was listed under level 2 based on the President’s narco list,” Rasco said.
The couple was brought to the Dr. Jorge P. Royeca Hospital, but they were declared dead on arrival by attending physicians.
In another search operation, Rasco said the team seized suspected shabu (chrystal meth), firearms, ammunition, and a grenade at the house of PO1 Michael Sepi in the same village.
He said Sepi, who is assigned at the Maguindanao Police Provincial Office, is a brother of Juliet Bitayo and reportedly “one of her protectors.”
“He was not around during the operation and is currently at-large,” the police official said.
US-based Human Rights Watch said thousands of people had been killed since Duterte assumed office in 2016.
In Mindanao, the second government official under President Duterte’s lists of drug personalities, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom, was killed in an alleged shootout with the police in October 2016 in Makilala North Cotabato.
Dimaukom, 54, and his nine male companions aboard a two-vehicle convoy were on their way home from Davao City when they allegedly had a shootout with anti-drug operatives at a checkpoint along the national highway of Bulatukan village.
A month after the death of Dimaukom, his vice mayor, Anwar Sindatok, was killed by an assailant inside his house. /ee
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