AUTONOMOUS Region in Muslim Mindanao Police Regional Office director, Chief Superintendent Graciano J. Mijares yesterday said he has ordered a stepped-up hunt for the mayor and vice-mayor of Datu Montawal, Maguindanao who escaped arrest during a raid which left two of their heavily-armed bodyguards dead early morning Thursday.
Being hunted are Mayor Vicman Montawal, Vice-Mayor Otho Montawal and the latter’s brother Andy. The vice-mayor is included on President Duterte’s ‘narco-list’ as a major drug personality.
Mijares said that members of a partisan armed group being employed by the Montawals engaged officers in an hour-long gunbattle which ended in the killing of two suspects identified as Mentak Alon,21; and Belag Alon,22.
The two died while being taken to a local hospital for treatment of gunshot wounds. No casualty was reported on the side of the policemen from the ARMM Regional Intelligence Division, Regional Mobile Force Battalion, Regional Intelligence Unit 15, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Datu Montawal Municipal Police Station who raided the suspects’ lair in Barangay Talapas around 2 a.m. Thursday.
Mijares said that four M-16 automatic rifles and a fragmentation grenade were recovered during the operation. He said that police conducted the raid on the strength of search warrants for violation of Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulations Act of 2013 and RA 9516 or illegal possession of explosives issued by Judge Alexander Bedoya of the local regional trial court.
“It is a legitimate police operation, na-observe ang operational procedure sa pag-conduct ng search,” said Mijares. He said that charges for illegal possession of firearms and explosives will be filed against the mayor and his co-respondents who managed to escape.