Manhunt on vs suspects in ambush of Lanao del Sur governor

Lanao del Sur Rep. Zia Alonto (left), Vice Governor Mohammad Khalid Adiong (center) and Bangsamoro Minister for Interior and Local Government Naguib Sinarimbo (right) prepare for the press conference in Cagayan de Oro City on Saturday, 18 February 2023. Sinarimbo announced that at least 10 suspects in the ambush Friday on the convoy of Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. have been identified. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 24 February) — A full-scale manhunt has been launched against the suspects in the ambush of Lanao del Sur Mamintal Adiong Jr., after efforts to negotiate for their surrender failed.

Rep. Zia Adiong (1st District, Lanao del Sur), brother of Governor Adiong said the suspects did not respond to efforts by the League of Municipalities of the Philippines Lanao del Sur chapter calling for their surrender.

“There’s never any reply from the perpetrators relative to the appeal of surrender,” Zia said.

Naguib Sinarimbo, Bangsamoro Minister for the Interior and Local Government earlier said authorities have identified 10 suspects in the ambush of the governor in Maguing town in Lanao del Sur last February 17.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) said all suspects have links to a drug syndicate involved in the production of marijuana and are also engaged in the sale of illegal firearms.

Lanao del Sur PNP spokesperson Major Alvison Mustapha identified the leader of the suspects as Commander Lumala and Oscar Gandawali.

Police seized a motorcycle reportedly owned by Lumala at the scene of the ambush in Barangay Delimbayan, Maguing.

Gandawali was among the 10 suspects in the ambush of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agents in Kapai town, Lanao del Sur on October 5, 2018 where five were killed and two were wounded.

In the morning of February 17, PDEA agents also raided and uprooted 25,489 marijuana shrubs allegedly planted by Lumala and Gandawali in Barangay Bato-bato in Maguing.

Hours later, Gov. Adiong, in a seven-car convoy, passed by the same area on the way to attend an event in Wao, a town in Lanao del Sur bordering Kalilangan town in Bukidnon.

Gunmen positioned on both sides of the road fired at the convoy killing four of Adiong’s security escorts. Adiong, who was in the third vehicle, was wounded and was rushed to Kalilangan and later to Cagayan de Oro for treatment.

The Adiong family released a photo of the governor on Thursday in his hospital bed recuperating from the medical operation that removed a bullet slug from his right hip.

“Akala ko patak nang ulan ang tumama sa sasakyan namin. Yun pala mga bala na (I thought it was rain drops that hit our vehicle. It was bullets),” he said.

The governor was shown flashing a thumbs up sign from his bed at the Polymedic Hospital in Cagayan de Oro where he was brought after the shooting.

He called on the mayors and residents of Lanao del Sur to report to the authorities anyone linked to the drug syndicates in the province.

“Hindi ako takot labanan ang illegal drugs kasi pag ako natakot, sino pa magdepensa sa mga constituents ko laban dito ( I am not scared to fight illegal drugs because I’d be frightened, who will defend my constituents against it)?” he said. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)