Cooler heads prevent misencounter between Iligan police and Bravo’s security team

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 22 May) — A misunderstanding nearly led to a misencounter Thursday between a team of the Iligan City police and a security team escorting Bangsamoro Member of Parliament Abdullah Macapaar,  more popularly known as ‘Commander Bravo’ of the North Western Mindanao Front of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

From left: Gov. Imelda Quibranza-Dimaporo, Pakigdait’s Musa Sanguila, Abdullah Macapaar (aka “Kumander Bravo), and Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo at the MILF’s Camp Bilal in Munai, Lanao del Norte for the commemoration of the second anniversary of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. MindaNews photo by RICHEL V. UMEL

But cooler heads prevailed and averted a bloody gunfight between Bravo, his men and the Iligan police, Ariel Hernandez of the Office of the President Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said.

Hernandez told MindaNews that Macapaar went to Iligan to buy construction materials for his community in Munai town, Lanao del Norte, in a convoy of seven vehicles that included his security team comprising his men and  two Army soldiers.

Henandez said,  joint police and traffic enforcement team happened to be conducting vehicle inspection in Barangay Suarez when Macapaar’s convoy passed.

He said frantic calls were made to concerned government agencies to defuse the situation.

Hernandez said a team of soldiers from the Army 2nd Mechanized Brigade came and escorted Bravo and his men back to his hometown in Munai.

Musa Sanguila, executive director of Pakigdait, an NGO monitoring the peace process between  government and the MILF told MindaNews that “Bravo thought he would be arrested by the police. This was all a misunderstanding.”

Sanguila said Macapaar, who was traveling without a safe conduct pass, thought the policemen were out to arrest him.

Macapaar still has a pending warrant of arrest for cases filed against him as a rebel commander, including the attacks he was reported to have led in Lanao del Norte that  prompted then President Joseph Estrada to wage an “all-out war” against the MILF in 2000. It is not clear what has happened to the 10-million peso bounty for his capture.

Macapaar took his oath as Member of Parliament under the Bangsamoro Transition Authority on February 22, 2019 in Malacanang.

(L to R) Abdullah Macapaar aka “Kumander Bravo,” North Western Mindanao Front commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s soon-to-be-decommissioned Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) stands beside Abdulraof Macacua aka Sammy Al Mansoor and Sammy Gambar, BIAF Chief of Staff, former Rep. Pangalian Balindong and MILF Central Committee member Ibrahim Ali as they await the oathtaking rites of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority at Rizal Hall, Malacanang on 22 February 2019. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Sanguila said despite being a Member of Parliament, Bravo has to secure a safe conduct pass every month from government authorities.

He said the last time the government issued a safe conduct pass to Bravo was in October 2020.

“Last Thursday, Bravo was travelling without a safe conduct pass. That was the reason for his apprehension,” Sanguila said. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)