Armory ‘enough to arm platoon’ found as gov’t troops pursue mayor
TACURONG CITY—Government troops pursuing a fugitive mayor of Maguindanao province stumbled on an armory which contained firearms and explosives that a military official described as more than enough to arm a platoon of soldiers.
Col. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the 601st Infantry Brigade based here, said the guns, bullets and explosives were found in a two-story building in Talitay town supposedly owned by Talitay Mayor Montasir Sabal.
“This is a huge armory enough to arm more than two dozen persons. It also has manufacturing facilities,” Sobejana told the Inquirer by telephone.
He said the armory was found near Sabal’s house, which was raided by soldiers and policemen on Nov. 18.
Sobejana said after the raid that yielded seven large sachets of “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride) and two firearms, authorities conducted another raid on Tuesday on Sabal’s property and found the firearms and explosives.
He said among the items recovered were two .50 cal. machine guns, two .30 cal. machine guns, four 81-millimeter mortar shells, two 60-mm mortar shells, four Browning automatic rifles, nine M-1 Garand rifles, two 81-mm mortar launchers, dozens of rocket-propelled grenades, bullets and other war materiel.
But in an interview aired by a local television network, Sabal denied owning any of the contraband that the military reportedly seized from his property.
“Those were planted,” said Sabal.
He and his brother, Vice Mayor Abdulwahab Sabal, were earlier named by President Duterte as among Maguindanao’s “narcopoliticians.” Abdulwahab was earlier arrested on charges of illegal possession of firearms.
Mayor Sabal, who eluded several attempts to arrest him, said he was not involved in the drug trade.
Sabal, however, rejected suggestions he surrender so he can face charges in court.
“I will not surrender, I am innocent. I denounce the military rule in my town,” he said.—EDWIN O. FERNANDEZ