Slain suspect in Vice Mayor Sema’s ambush an ARMM employee

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/11 January) – The slain suspected assailant of Cotabato City Vice Mayor Datu Muslimin Sema was a development management officer of the Office of the Southern Cultural Communities (OSCC) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), reports from the Bureau of Public Information (BPI)-ARMM said.

Zermin Abdullah, 48, was holding a permanent career position at the OSCC-ARMM, where he had worked since 1991, records showed.

Among Abdullah’s tasks at the OSCC-ARMM was to help settle rido or clan wars and implement the government’s PhilHealth para sa Masa program for indigenous peoples in Maguindanao.

Fatima Kanakan, head of the OSCC-ARMM, said she was devastated to learn that one of her employees was involved in the crime.

“I could hardly imagine Abdullah would do that. I know him to be a good person, a good father to his family,” said Kanakan.

She said her last meeting with Abdullah was last Monday when he asked her to sign PhilHealth documents of IP beneficiaries in Maguindanao.

“As a resident of the city, I know the political atmosphere here but we do not want to get involved.  We’re working in good faith here,” she said.

Meanwhile, ARMM OIC-Governor Mujib Hataman stressed the OSCC-ARMM has nothing to do with the attempt to kill Sema, who also chairs the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

In a text message, Hataman said he has already sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe deeper the incident to unmask those who wanted Sema dead.

Hataman said he has tasked his executive secretary, lawyer Anwar Malang, to work closely with the NBI and update him on the case.

Sema was ambushed near his home at noon yesterday. He was immediately rushed to the Notre Dame Hospital to treat bullet wounds in the ear and cheek but was later declared out of danger. He was airlifted to Davao City in the afternoon and admitted at a private hospital there.

Police said Sema’s bodyguards opened fire at the attackers. Suspect Abdullah was hit in the back and later died at the Cotabato Regional Medical Center while his still unidentified companion managed to get away. (Malu Cadelina-Manar/MindaNews)