Village chief arrested, detained for colluding with pirates

ZAMBOANGA CITY  (MindaNews/09 April) —  The police arrested and detained a village official for allegedly harboring and colluding criminals in Zamboanga Sibugay,  the provincial police director said.

Arrested and detained was Daris Harin, the village chair of Kaliantana in Naga town, according to Zamboanga Sibugay Police Office (ZSPO) director Senior Supt. Ruben Cariaga.

Cariaga reported to Zamboanga Peninsula Police Office (ZPPO) director Chief Supt. Elpidio De Asis that Harin was arrested Thursday night after the firefight between government forces and the group of pirates led by Kamsa Asdanal in Kaliantana.

Nine pirates including Asdanal were killed when firefight broke out Thursday afternoon while the combined police and Army forces went to Barangay Kaliantana, Naga municipality to serve Asdana’s warrant of arrest.

Asdanal’s group reportedly opened fire when the government forces arrived at Purok 4, Barangay Kaliantana, Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command, said.

Cariaga reported that they have strong evidence that Harin colluded with Asdanal’s group. He said that as soon as the troops arrived,  Harin informed them that Asdanal’s group had left the area.

Cariaga said they discovered from the confiscated mobile phone of Harin, that there was an exchange of text messages between Harin and Asdanal before the troops arrived in Barangay Kaliantana.

Meanwhile, Felicisimo Khu, chief of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations (DIPO)-West said  Asdanal and his followers were involved in extorting from fishing vessels and a bus company.

Khu said they are looking into the possibility that Asdanal’s group may have been  involved in the burning of an inter-provincial bus last Tuesday in Tungawan, Zamboanga Sibugay. An Army major, his wife and a militiaman who served as bus marshal, were killed.

Khu said Asdanal’s group was also involved in the kidnapping of nurse Maricris Cuartocruz on December 14 in Barangay Manicahan, this city.

Cuartocruz was freed on February 28 in Barangay Timbang-Timbang, Alicia, Zamboanga Sibugay. (MindaNews)