Army men suspected as kidnappers clash with cops

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/02 December) – Two Army soldiers suspected to be involved in the kidnapping of a businessman in Marawi City figured in a shootout here early this morning with police operatives from the Lanao del Sur capital.

Chief Inspector Reynante Reyes, commander of this city’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Management Bureau, said in his report that Marawi police led by Supt. Jaime Mojica engaged Major Mikunug Tangote and Corporal Harvey Borreta in a shootout.

Tangote is the officer-in-charge of the Military Police of the 4th Infantry Division based in Camp Edilberto Evangelista, Barangay Patag, this city, and Borreta is an intelligence officer under the 4ID’s Headquarters Support Battalion.

Also identified in the report to have been involved in the early morning shootout were Drisha Mojamad and Yahya Tomawis. Both are reportedly cousins of Tangote.

The same report said the Marawi police “halted the Mazda sedan color red bearing plate number LMH-314 boarded by Tangote, Mojamad and Tomawis” along Masterson Avenue, Upper Carmen at about 1:30 a.m.

However, the red Mazda allegedly refused to stop leading to a running gun battle in front of SM Mall. The suspects were later cornered at the Pan de Pugon Bakeshop on Masterson Avenue.

The report also alleged that Borreta “served as spotter” during the incident.

Tangote was wounded in the nape by shards of broken window of his vehicle, and Mojamad suffered a bullet wound in the left arm.

The Marawi City police alleged that the three were suspected to have been involved in the kidnapping of Ibrahim Ali, on November 29 in the same city.

In an interview, Cagayan de Oro City Police Office director Senior Supt. Gerardo Rosales said that on Thursday evening, the chief of police of Marawi had coordinated with his office regarding the operation on the suspected kidnappers.

Rosales said he sent operatives from Police Stations 2 and 4 and Homicide Section when the Marawi City Police called for backup but that the suspects were already contained when the local police arrived at the crime scene, he added.

He said they held a case conference with the Philippine Anti Crime Emergency Response (Pacer), Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the Joint Task Force Ranao at 8 a.m. to “iron out preparations of affidavits and the subsequent filing of appropriate charges against the suspected kidnappers.”

“If possible we will file the cases against the suspects this afternoon,” said Rosales.

Chief Supt. Francisco Cristobal Jr., head of the Joint Task Force Ranao, said in an interview that the suspects and the victim’s family had agreed that the payment of ransom would be in this city.

“The kidnapper instructed the victim’s family that the ransom pay-off will be done in Cagayan de Oro. That is why we coordinated with this city’s police office,” he said, adding the ransom was pegged at P5 million.

CIDG regional chief Senior Supt. Elizeo Rasco said they have joined the investigation since the shootout involved operatives of Region 10 and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“We are still investigating the kidnapping of Ali. We are here kasi nagsimula ang crime sa ARMM and ended up here in Region 10. We will investigate kung sino pa ang involved sa kidnapping,” Rasco said.

In an interview, 4ID spokesperson Major Eugenio Julio Osias, IV said that “we will not dip our fingers in[to] the police investigation.”

“Our commanding general (Major General Victor Felix) has instructed me to make sure and assure the PNP that we will fully cooperate with the police investigation. We should not meddle in the investigation because this is a law enforcement operation,” said Osias.

He said that they only sent Major Aldrich Uayan of the Judge Advocate General’s Office to the city police’s Maharlika Headquarters, where Tangote is currently held, “to ensure that his rights are observed and upheld.”

He added however that they will also conduct their own “internal investigation” which will be “administrative” in nature.

According to their records, Tangote had no previous criminal and administrative case and that he even held three positions in the 4ID’s headquarters.

Tangote is a second batch integree from the Moro National Liberation Front in 1998. Until December 1, this year, he was officer-in-charge of the 4ID Diamond Band, commanding officer of the base’s Military Police and intelligence officer-in-charge of the Headquarters Support Battalion.

He was relieved from his intelligence work to give way to an officer who was trained for the same job, and so that he could concentrate on the other two positions he is currently holding.

“It’s a normal relief order because Tangote has been holding three positions at the same time,” said Osias.

He said Tangote’s battalion commander Lt. Col. Rene Canete had confirmed that Tangote resides at the Officers’ Quarters inside the camp and had not traveled to Marawi City recently.

“When I talked to him at Maharlika, he (Tangote) said that his cousins (Mojamad and Tomawis) visited him at the base earlier that evening. Tangote told me he treated them for dinner at Jollibee but somehow the group decided to transfer to Calda’s Pizza at SM,” said Osias. (Cong Corrales/MindaNews)