A MAN tagged as the 5th most wanted terrorist in Western Mindanao and his companion were killed in a counter-terrorism operation launched by agents of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force in Tungawan, Zamboanga Sibugay on Saturday, a report to PNP chief, General Debold M. Sinas said yesterday.
The suspect, Jomar Aukasa, described as a ‘facilitator/financier’ of the Abu Sayyaf Group and his pal identified only as alias’ Buchoy’ were killed in a shootout with members of the SAF’s 5thSpecial Action Battalion in Barangay Sisay in Tungawan municipality 2:30 p.m. Saturday, said PNP-SAF director, Major Gen. Bernabe M. Balba.
Balba said his men led by Major Rodel Sillaran, joined by officers from the Police Regional Office 9 Intelligence Division and the Tungawan Municipal Police Station under Brig. Gen. Jesus D. Cambay Jr. and the Regional Intelligence Unit 9 of the PNP Intelligence Group headed by Brig. Gen. Edgar S. Monsalve were involved in the operation.
The PNP-SAF commander said Aukasa was about to be arrested on the strength of a warrant of arrest for three counts of murder and a robbery case when he and his companion resisted and engaged the troops in a shootout.
Both suspects died on the spot. Recovered from their possession were one FN rifle, a Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol and dozens of live ammunition. Balba said that a record check showed that the Glock 17 recovered from the suspects’ possession was stolen by Aukasa from Police Officer 1 Muhammad Nur Aliamia when he bolted the Tungawan police lock-up facility in 2018.
It turned out that Aukasa managed to grab the weapon from the policeman and used it in shooting a responding officer identified as Police Officer 3 Rommel de la Cruz on his left breast. The cop fortunately survived the gun attack.
It was the latest major counter-terrorism operation conducted by the PNP since last Friday, Gen. Sinas said.
Around 5:30 a.m. last Friday, a gunbattle erupted between PNP-SAF agents and a group of heavily-armed terror suspects in Polomolok, South Cotabato resulting in the death of six of the gunmen and injuries to two policemen, the PNP chief said.
The slain suspects were led by Arafat Bulacon alias ‘Maula,’ a known sub-leader of the Dawlah Islamiyah Maguid Group formerly known as the Ansar Khilafa Philippines who is the subject of two warrants of arrest for murder issued by two Mindanao courts.
According to Sinas, a platoon of commandos from the 4th Special Action Battalion of the PNP Special Action Force led by Major Paul Vincent Camarce raided the suspects’ hideout in Purok 6-A in Barangay Koronadal Proper in Polomolok municipality 5:30 a.m.
The occupants of the suspected terrorist safehouse sensed the presence of the approaching troops and engaged them in a firefight.
A 40-minute gunbattle erupted between the two groups resulting in the killing of Bulacan and his five still unidentified cohorts and the wounding of SAF troopers, Corporal Bryan Cabreros and Patrolman Ronald Lepalam.
Initially recovered at the scene were one caliber 5.56 Bushmaster rifle with one long steel magazine.
The wounded policemen were brought to the Polomolok Municipal Hospital for initial treatment before Cpl. Cabreros was transferred to the Mindanao Medical Center in General Santos City for further medical care.
Gen. Sinas said that the PNP-SAF was joined by operatives from the Police Regional Office 12 Regional Mobile Force Battalion and the South Cotabato Provincial Mobile Force Company, all under PRO12 director, Brig. Gen. Michael John F. Dubria; the 17th Air Force Intelligence Battalion; the 12th National Intelligence Service Unit and the Naval Intelligence Service Group and the Army’s 5th Special Forces in conducting the raid.
He said that Bulacon is the subject of a warrant of arrest for murder issued by Jude Lorenzo Balo of the Isulan, Sultan Kudarat Regional Trial Court Branch 19 and another warrant for murder issued by Judge Adelbert Santillan of the Polomolok RTC Branch 63.
The PNP chief said that Bulacon, along with Dawlah Islamiyah leaders Salahuddin Hassan and Abu Toraype are all associated with the late wanted terror leader Geoffrey Nilong alias ‘Abu Omar/Moimoi’ who was killed in a firefight with PNP Intelligence Group agents under Brig. Gen. Edgar S. Monsalve and the PRO12 inside the Migyz Inn in Purok Hiligaynon, Bgy. Saliao in Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat last Wednesday.
Monsalve said the suspect is known as the leader of the Dawlah Islamiyah Nilong Group wanted for its involvement in a 2018 General Santos City bombing, the assassination of a local policeman identified as Captain Herman Gabat and the ambush on several Polomolok policemen.
Recovered from the slain suspect were one cal. .45 pistol, two 60mm mortar warheads, one rifle grenade with bull trap, one electric blasting cap and an improvised explosive device placed inside an empty M-230 shell.