Gov’t slams ‘cowardly’ killing of PDEA agents in Lanao del Sur
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has condemned the “cowardly” killing of its agents who were ambushed in Lanao del Sur on Friday.
The PDEA agents were killed after unidentified assailants opened fire at them in Barangay Malna in Kapai, Lanao del Sur at around 12 p.m.
“We strongly condemn to the highest sense the cowardly and atrocious killing of our agents in Lanao. This is unacceptable to the government and to the PDEA leadership,” PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said in a statement.
Aquino assured that they will conduct an immediate investigation into the incident and vowed that its “shameless” masterminds will be put behind bars.
Meanwhile in Zamboanga City, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman also condemned the ambuscade of the anti-drug agents.
“I hope that justice will be served soon. Nakikiramay kami sa mga pamilya ng mga nasawi. They were killed while performing their duties, dahil sa kanilang paglilingkod sa bayan,” Hataman said as he urged the police to identify and arrest those behind the ambush.
Aquino said the deaths of the PDEA agents will not deter authorities to further advance the fight against the illegal drug trade, rather they will be inspired even more to bust its perpetrators.
“Their death will not go in vain. We will fight even more with fierce commitment and determination,” the PDEA chief said.
“This has just given us more strength to continue our crusade rather than bow to the threats of these illegal drug syndicates,” Aquino added.
Aquino also noted that the attack is a proof that criminals are being threatened of the intensity of the government’s war on drugs.
The report said the antidrug agents, who attended a program for drug surrenderers in Tagoloan town, were on board a white Toyota Fortuner when unidentified men waylaid and ambushed them.
Four died on the spot while the two wounded were immediately rushed to Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi City. One was declared dead on arrival while the other remains critical at the intensive care unit.
The report identified the slain PDEA members as Kenneth Tabulo, Kristine Mae Torlao, Lores Joy Amar, Binzo Dipolla and Diobel Pacinio, while the sixth victim, Rachel Gentapanan, is still fighting for her life at the hospital’s ICU.
A non-uniformed personnel from the Tagoloan police station, Normina Dicay, was also wounded but survived the ambush.
Senior Inspector Jemar Delos Santos, spokesperson of ARMM regional police, said the Lanao del Sur police and military forces quickly launched a manhunt operation in the area.
He said Chief Supt. Graciano Mijares, ARMM regional police director, strongly condemned the ambush, saying the PDEA personnel were not in combat nor in law enforcement operation but were doing development works for the government’s drug rehabilitation program.
A PDEA source who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak, however, said it was possible that the agents committed a security lapse by travelling without the company of other law enforcers because they were only doing information and education campaign works in Tagoloan II.
But he said that the PDEA ARMM had just arrested three alleged drug personalities in a raid in Iligan City on Sept. 19, which could have made the office a target of hostilities. /jpv
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