DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 28 October) – The mayor of a town in Maguindanao who was on the list of alleged drug personalities read by President Rodrigo Duterte on August 7 was killed along with his nine escorts along the highway in Makilala, North Cotabato early Friday morning in what the police said was a “legitimate anti-drug operation but the subjects opened fire on our troops.”
NDBC News’ Radyo Bida quoted Supt. Bernard Tayong of the North Cotabato police provincial office as saying the police anti-illegal drug task force was conducting a checkpoint along the highway in Barangay Old Bulatukan in Makilala at around 4:30 a.m. when three vehicles “loaded with heavily armed men … opened fire on law enforcers prompting authorities to fire back.”
Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan town and his escorts were rushed to the Makilala Medical Specialist Hospital but were pronounced dead on arrival, the report said. No policeman was reported killed or injured.
Tayong, according to NDBC News said the police received information that Dimaukom’s group was to transport huge stocks of shabu to Maguindanao and Cotabato City from Davao.
Dimaukom was the first of five Maguindanao mayors on the list of Duterte who presented himself to the office of Senior Supt. Nickson Muksan, provincial police chief at around 9:30 a.m. on August 7, some seven hours after the President read the list of 163 personalities allegedly involved in the illegal drugs trade.
Accompanied by his wife Anida, the town’s vice mayor who was also on Duterte’s list, Dimaukom told Muksan they were innocent and were willing to face investigation.
“We are most willing to clear our names, follow the process and let the truth come out at the soonest possible time, we are most willing to cooperate with the President on this issue” Mayor Dimaukom told MindaNews then. The mayors went to PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa the next day.
NDBC News also quoted Supt. Romeo Galgo Jr. of the Police Regional Office 12 as saying what happened in Makilala was a “legitimate anti-drug operation but the subjects opened fire on our troops.”
Other versions of the incident have been mentioned in social media postings.
Fr. Eliseo Mercado Jr., OMI, former president of Notre Dame University, told MindaNews “it would be best if a special investigative team with a state prosecutor in the lead be sent over to investigate what happened as there are several versions of the report — that the mayor’s group opened fire at the police, that the group was allegedly ‘ambushed’, and that the police allegedly asked them to alight the vehicles and told them to form one line and shot each one at a time.”
“There were 10 deaths and people deserve to know the truth,” Mercado added.
Maguindanao Governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu could not be reached for comment while ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman responded to MindaNews’ query at 11:16 a.m. saying “verifying pa” (still verifying).
President Duterte will be in Cotabato City tomorrow as guest speaker at the launching of the Comprehensive Reform and Development Agenda for ARMM and Other Conflict Areas in Regions 9, 10 and 12 at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Center in the Office of the Regional Government compound. (MindaNews)