No shots fired, suspects unscathed in raid on another mayor’s house
KIDAPAWAN CITY—Not a single drop of blood spilled this time.
Unlike Friday’s antidrug operation launched by police authorities in North Cotabato, where Datu Saudi Ampatuan Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom and 9 others were killed, the elected official who was subject of Saturday’s antidrug operation was unscathed.
Libungan, North Cotabato Mayor Christopher Cuan, who was also earlier named by President Rodrigo Duterte as a drug lord, welcomed authorities when they came to his house in Barangay Cabayuran, also in Libungan before dawn Saturday. A police operative then read to him the contents of four search warrants issued by Kabacan Regional Trial Court Judge Alex Betoya.
The warrants covered four of his properties; his house, the guard house, his motor pool, and his gasoline station.
Supt. Romeo Galgo Jr., the spokesperson of the Central Mindanao police, said members of the Regional Anti-Illegal Drug Special Operations Task Force (RAIDSOTF-12), the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) and elements from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA-12) served the warrants at 3 a.m.
Galgo said the search warrants were prompted by information that Cuan could be hiding illegal drugs and firearms.
After a search of the mayor’s four properties, Galgo said the raiding team found an M-16 Armalite rifle, a 12-gauge shot gun, two caliber .45 pistols, a cal. 5.56 bushmaster and hundreds of ammunition and magazines for various calibers.
No illegal drug had been found, though.
Charged under gun law
Senior Supt. Emmanuel Peralta, the North Cotabato police director, said Cuan had no permits for the firearms and will be charged under the Republic Act 10591, the comprehensive gun law.
The executive was now under the custody of the police’s Criminal Intelligence and Detection Group in North Cotabato.
In Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao, residents were mourning over Dimaukom’s death during the police antidrug operation in Makilala town.
A white cloth also partially draped the town’s “pink mosque,” which Dimaukom had funded. At the pink-colored town hall, the flag was flown at half mast.
“It was a rubout, where are we headed as a nation?” Ali, a Dimaukom supporter asked in Filipino. He said it was impossible for the mayor and his security escorts to open fire at the policemen, who conducted the checkpoint in Makilala town.
For one, Ali said Dimaukom’s escorts were licensed blue guards and were only armed with small firearms as earlier indicated.
“We believed the illegal drugs were planted,” Ali, who refused to give his full name, said about the 13 sachets of suspected shabu that police said were found on Dimaukom’s car after the alleged shootout.
“Look at the photos released by (Scene of Crime Operatives) and seen on social media,” he stressed. “The vehicles were properly parked beside the highway and the bullets’ trajectory were all from the outside,” he added.
Ali said they knew Dimaukom as “a good man.”
“He built this Mosque for all of us,” another supporter said.
Another resident said the slain mayor was not hiding anything and even voluntarily turned himself in when Duterte tagged him and his wife as narcopoliticians.
Dimaukom and his wife flew to Manila and sought Philippine National Police chief Dir. Gen. Ronald dela Rosa to clear their names.
Before he and his wife, Anida, “surrendered,” he already made denials to the local media.
“We have nothing to hide, I was surprised my name was included in the list, the charges against me and my wife were all baseless,” he said.
Dimaukom, while admitting that he did drugs in his younger days, said he was not a drug lord.
“I can swear on the Koran that I am not involved in illegal drugs,” Dimaukom, widely viewed by his constituents as a devout Muslim, said.
Galgo dismissed suspicions that it was a rubout.—WILLIAMOR MAGBANUA AND EDWIN FERNANDEZ
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