Suspect in 2008 Digos bus bombing nabbed

DATU PAGLAS, Maguindanao (MindaNews / 26 May) – After a long and tedious surveillance operation, joint police, Army and military intelligence agents arrested in this municipality dawn on Thursday a suspect believed to have participated in the 2008 Digos City bus terminal bombing.

Also arrested during the 4 a.m. joint police-military operation was barangay captain of a village in this municipality for illegal possession of firearms.

Senior Insp. Allan Uy, chief of the PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said government agents headed by their regional chief, Supt. Jimmy Daza, conducted the operation.

On April 2, 2008, six persons were killed and about 30 others were hurt when an improvised bomb packed with nails was planted by the suspects in the overhead bin of a Metro Shuttle bus from Davao City on its way to Malita, Davao del Sur.

Uy identified the bombing suspect as Kamad Makauyag, alias “Madz,” who was named in a search warrant issued by the Regional Trial Court in Digos City and allegedly a member of the Al Khobar Group, which is notorious for its extortion, bombings and kidnap-for-ransom activities.

The arresting agents also nabbed Datu Mahal Matalam, chair of Barangay Penfarm here. He is the son of former Maguindanao Gov. Jimmy Matalam.

Makauyag and the younger Matalam were in the same farm and residential compound owned by the latter during the raid.

Makauyag vehemently denied any participation in any bombing in Mindanao. He said he is just an ordinary farmer working as caretaker in Matalam’s house. “I’m not aware of any crime I’ve committed. I am just an ordinary farm worker,” he said.

Government forces recovered from the village official one German-made caliber .22 rifle, a 9mm submachine gun and a caliber .40 pistol with ammunition.

Uy said the arrest was part of the PNP’s “Oplan Pagtugis” and “Oplan Paglalansag” targeting wanted persons and loose firearms.

“Our priority was Makauyag because he was a member of Al Khobar extortion group. We searched the vicinity and found firearms in the house of Matalam,” Uy said.