CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Lanao del Norte Second District Representative Abdullah Dimaporo asked law enforcers on Monday, January 2, the investigate the murder of Pantar, Lanao del Norte mayor Mohammad Exchan Limbona.
In particular, Dimaporo urged law enforcement agencies such as the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a thorough investigation to locate and identify Limbona’s killers.
Dimaporo also appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to prioritize the probe into Limbona’s death.
“We ask our President to give time for the capture of the assassins of Exchan Limbona who has contributed to our pursuit of law and order, peace and unity of our people [in Lanao del Norte],” he said in a statement.
In a separate statement, Lanao del Norte Governor Imelda Quibranza Dimaporo said Limbona was a dedicated leader who “never abandoned or left his constituents” during the political crisis in Pantar.
Limbona was gunned down by still unidentified men inside his vehicle on its way to Pantar from this city in Sitio Paitan, Barangay Dalipuga, Iligan City, on December 29.
In a radio interview Monday, Iligan City police chief Senior Superintendent Leony Roy Ga said it was probable that Limbona’s vehicle was being followed as it made its way to Pantar from this city since the killers knew that the former mayor was driving.
Ga said the assailants’ car has been tailing Limbona’s Ford Everest from this city and got the chance when the target vehicle slowed down.
He said the attackers then overtook Limbona’s SUV and fired at the driver’s side, hitting the victim before speeding off.
Triggered by clan war?
Investigators said Limbona had 6 gunshot wounds on various parts of his body.
Limbona was brought to a medical facility but was declared dead after about an hour later.
Weapons believed to be used by the attackers were .38-caliber and 9-mm pistols, and an M16 rifle, based on the empty shells that were recovered.
Ga said the police are still looking for potential witnesses that could help them identify the suspects, since the area where the incident happened was dark and secluded.
Even Limbona’s wife and daughter, who were with him during the ambush, and his two police escorts who were injured, could not give details that would lead to the identity of the attackers.
In previous interviews, Ga said it was probable that Limbona’s assassination was triggered by rido (clan war) and politics in his hometown.
Limbona was involved in a controversy when he was accused of killing Pantar vice mayor Hadji Abdul Onos in 2007. He was administratively dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman in 2014.
In May 2014, Mangonday Tago was appointed as acting mayor after Limbona’s dismissal order although he refused to vacate his post.
In the May 2016 polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) placed Pantar “under Comelec control” because of violence and “serious armed threats.” – Rappler.com