Mayor Floro Allado of Banisilan, a hinterland town in North Cotabato, denied it was his group that first fired the shots. Instead, he said he just returned fire when he was attacked.
“When I saw the truck loaded with suspicious-looking men, I approached them and asked them questions. But instead of responding to my query, they fired shots toward my direction,” said Allado in an interview over the Catholic-ran DXMS.
The mayor said that since last week, he has ordered his police force to be on red alert as he was receiving persistent reports that his town would be attacked by lawless elements.
This afternoon’s supposed attack, the Banisilan PNP claimed, was led by a certain Commander Faron.
But the mayor’s version was refuted by a survivor as well as residents of Barangay Poblacion, the site where the alleged indiscriminate firing took place.
Amelil Apag, one of the truck passengers that survived, denied it was their group that first fired the shots. He said the truck was loaded with sacks of rice to be delivered to a rice retail store in Barangay Poblacion and that only one of them identified as Katindeg, also known as “Five,” was carrying a firearm.
Katindeg, Apag said, served as their security but had no intention of attacking the mayor nor the town.
When they were on their way to the Poblacion, Allado and his men opened fire on them, Apag said.
Three died on the spot, including Katindeg and the truck driver. Five others were injured.
A 10-year-old boy, who was among the injured passengers, died while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Wao, Lanao del Sur, according to North Cotabato provincial board member Shirlyn Macasarte-Espuelas, also a resident of Banisilan.
Apag and two companions survived the attack when they jumped out of the truck to seek cover. As of press time, Apag could not locate his two other companions.
North Cotabato Gov. Manny Piñol has immediately ordered a thorough investigation and sent a medical mission to look after those that were injured.
Piñol said if they find prima facie evidence against Allado, he would immediately order the suspension of the Banisilan mayor.