Drug suspect, mom and 2 kids killed in Maguindanao shootout
COTABATO CITY – A suspected drug pusher, a mother and her two children were killed when drug suspects traded shots with anti-drug operatives in Raja Buayan town in Maguindanao Tuesday.
Senior Police Officer 2 Mohammad Ampatuan of the Raja Buayan town police said the targets of several search warrants opened fire and lobbed grenades at government forces, who were conducting an anti-drug operation in Barangay Panadtaban at about 2 p.m. Tuesday.
The shootout led to the deaths of Normin Tantong and her children, a five-year-old and an infant. Also killed was one of the suspected drug pushers, the police said.
Ampatuan said the two other subjects of the search warrants managed to escape although they got injured in the firefight.
Mayor Zamsamin Ampatuan of Raja Buayan said the village of Panadtaban has been known as a trading area for illegal drugs.
Ampatuan said he was sad the suspects did not even think of their relatives in the house when they opened fire on government forces.
He added that the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has been protecting the illegal drug trade in the village.
The anti-drug operation in Maguindanao had been intensified since the start of the year and has netted several suspects, including elected officials.
On March 30, Datu Anggal Midtimbang town Councilor Daud Rakim Guiama, was arrested when authorities found him inside the lair of suspected drug pushers Zainudin Musa, Bukatol Maliga alias Castro, and Katidia Paglas in Barangay Mapayag, in Datu Anggal Midtimbang town.
Guiama’s arrest came two days after a Maguindanao village councilor — who had been under surveillance by anti-narcotics operatives for peddling and using prohibited drugs — was arrested in Datu Odin Sinsuat town.
Chief Inspector Achmad Alibonga, police chief of Datu Odin Sinsuat (DOS), Maguindanao, said Razul Diocolano Imam, 29, a councilor of Barangay Banobo in Sultan Kudarat town, did not resist arrest when operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency swooped down his other home in Barangay Awang, in Datu Odin Sinsuat.
Alibonga said one big sachet of methamphetamine hydrochloride or “shabu” with a market value of about P20,000 and marked money were seized from Imam.
On February 23, PDEA agents also arrested Rajah Buayan town councilor Dennis Sandigan Utto.
Babang said Utto reportedly operated a drug ring that distributed methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) in Maguindanao.
Utto’s arrest was preceded by the fall of Fatima Daud Baliwan, a village chair in Kabuntalan town.
Baliwan, wife of former Kabuntalan mayor Muslim Usman Baliwan and said to be the “Maguindanao drug queen,” also topped the PDEA drug watch list for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
She was arrested along with her son and two others in Cotabato City, during which, they also yielded several sachets of shabu, firearm and credit cards and a luxury vehicle.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said Maguindanao has become one of the provinces that have been infiltrated by narcopolitics.
Shortly after winning the presidency, he named Ampatuan town Mayor Rasul Sangki; Datu Saudi mayor Samsudin Dimaukom and his wife, town Vice Mayor Anida; Talitay town Mayor Montassir Sabal and his brother, Talitay Vice Mayor Abdulwahab; and Datu Salibo Mayor Norodin Salasal as among the province’s biggest drug personalities.
Sangki and Montassir Sabal continue to elude arrests while Samsudin Dimaukom was killed in a clash with policemen in Makilala, North Cotabato in October 2016. Dimaukom’s brother, Abdulwahab, was arrested in September while Anida had kept herself in seclusion in Datu Saudi town. There has been no update on Salasal’s whereabouts as of yet. SFM
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.