Gov’t troops clash with Ampatuan mayor’s security personnel in anti-drugs ops

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 26 January) – Intense firefight broke out early Thursday morning in a mountainous area in Ampatuan, Maguindanao when government forces armed with warrants came to search the premises of suspects in the illegal drugs trade, Ampatuan Mayor Rasul Sangki among them.

Supt. Jimmy Daza, Chief of Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (CIDG-ARMM), confirmed the ongoing operations in Barangay Saniag, Ampatuan in search of suspected illegal drugs and illegal firearms and explosives.

Sr. Supt. Agustin Tello, Maguindanao police chief, confirmed that among those who was supposed to be served the search warrant was Mayor Sangki.

Sangki was one of five Maguindanaon mayors President Rodrigo Duterte named from the list he made public in the early morning hours of August 7, 2016. He was erroneously identified as mayor of Datu Saudi Ampatuan.

Sangki, a government star witness in the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre of 58 persons, presented himself, as did the four other mayors, before then Maguindanao police director, Senior Supt. Nickson Muksan, morning of August 7. All claimed they were innocent and were ready to face investigation.

Among the five was Mayor Samsodin Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan town who was killed on October 28 together with nine escorts along the highway in Makilala, North Cotabato in what the police said was a “legitimate anti-drug operation but the subjects opened fire on our troops.” Relatives relatives and supporters, however, claimed it was a “rub-out.”

Brig. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, newly-installed commander of the 6th Infantry Division, said the blocking force of the military engaged the armed groups allied to the subject of the operation, forcing them to use air and artillery assets. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera / MindaNews)