Wounded were 2Lt. Pedro Peralta, detachment commander of the 3rd Infantry Battalion who was detailed at an outpost at the corner of Datu Ingkal St. and Quezon Boulevard here, and 51-year-old barbecue vendor Sinforiena Pakiwag Pongase.
Peralta’s back and Pongase’s right leg were hit when the natives, all members of the Bagani group of armed Manobo and Bagobo warriors, fired their M-14 and Garand rifles toward the police outpost.
Chief Insp. Leo Ajero, city police director, said the attack came minutes after his men and some members of the Army’s 3IB responded to a complaint lodged against the natives by a restaurant employee around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Accordingly, the natives, after a heavy drinking session inside the Chicken Ati-Atihan located just few meters away from the police outpost, attempted to evade paying their bills.
They were about to leave the place when authorities — mostly PNP and Army troopers assigned at the PNP Sector 2 outpost — arrived at the area and warned the natives they would be brought to jail if they would not settle the account.
Eventually, the natives were able to pay the charges, but because they felt they were humiliated, one of the leaders identified as Commander Jun Curbala reportedly warned the PNP and the Army they would take revenge.
A little past midnight, Curbala and his men, now armed, on board four motorcycles returned to the outpost and fired towards the outpost.
Ajero led the pursuit against the suspects, together with some members of the 72nd Infantry Battalion and Task Force Cotabato. They cornered five of the suspects at the TJC Homes in Barangay Sudapin here around 2 a.m., and the other three in Barangay Mateo just a few minutes later.
Ajero identified five of those arrested as Cain Banggaan Labi, 40, of Barangay Balete, Magpet; Oscar Lamberto Lentija, 27, of Barangay Basak, Magpet; Roy Ladao Anta, 34, of Barangay Ganatan, Arakan; Nono Balsado Ocate, 36, of Barangay Badiangon, Arakan; and Ronie Singag Bantac, 23, of Barangay Salaysay, Marilog District in Davao City.
Ajero said they are still pursuing Commander Curbala and a certain Julie Camsi, supposedly his security escort. They suspect the two are hiding somewhere in the hinterlands of Magpet and Arakan.
Accordingly, the suspects are all members of a private army led by Datu Ahman Arcadio whose base is in Arakan. Arcadio, however, denied the allegations during a radio interview.
A top commander of the Army’s 72IB has also refuted accusations that Curbala and his group are under his command. (MindaNews)