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DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A rivalry for leadership within a cult-like group in Davao City turned bloody on Wednesday, July 26, as a tribal warrior and a former militiaman launched a brutal attack on policemen who had been dispatched to a village to pacify the conflicting parties. The policemen were hacked, stabbed, and shot.
Major Ricky Obenza, commander of the Calinan Police Station, said the policemen who died were attacked with bolos and then shot several times.
Quoting witnesses, Obenza said the suspects were “very aggressive and violent,” like they were “possessed by bad spirits,” and believed that their amulets made them bulletproof.
In a statement, the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) condemned the deadly attack and mourned the deaths of the two law enforcers, adding that their demise was a significant loss to the police organization and their fellow police officers.
Davao City police director Colonel Alberto Lupaz said two responding policemen, Chief Master Sergeant Tito Didal Lague, and Corporal Mark Anthony Elman Corsino, were killed at Purok 4, Barangay Lacson in Calinan District.
One of the suspects, Matigsalug bagani (tribal warrior) Benao Maanib Landas, was also killed during the shootout.
Another policeman, Corporal Ken Liango Dumanoy, and their driver, Donald Ombrete, were wounded in the attack allegedly staged by Landas and Rico Macasay, a Matigsalug and former member of the militia group Special Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit Active Auxiliary.
Police said Landas and Macasay used bolos and guns in attacking the policemen.
Lupaz said the deadly attack stemmed from a conflict among family members within a local group known for conducting “healing sessions” and was not a case of pangayaw (tribal war) as reported earlier.
Investigators said the police team went to the village to pacify members of a Matigsalug family who had a dispute over the leadership of a religious group.
They said Landas resented his sister-in-law, Bai Tinay, and her husband for leading the religious group.
Inside the group’s church, crime scene investigators found skeletal remains, bolos, and a shotgun.
An initial police report showed that a group, composed of corporals Corsino and Donald Ombrete, and their aide, Richard Mendoza, went to the area and asked Landas’ father, Angelito Maanib Landas, to talk to his son and calm him down.
As tensions flared, the younger Landas and Macasay, both armed with bolos and guns, allegedly launched an attack on members of the police team.
Mendoza, who escaped, said he saw Macasay grabbing Corporal Corsino’s gun and shooting the policeman with it.
Investigators said Chief Master Sergeant Lague was killed during an exchange of fire with Landas at a nearby compound. Both were killed.
Lague, the highest-ranking member of the police team, was declared dead on arrival at the Isaac T. Robillo Memorial Hospital.
Police said Masacay was subsequently arrested during a hot pursuit operation near the crime scene. Two rifles and ammunition were seized from him.
Masacay is currently under the custody of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Management Group (CIDG) and is facing double murder charges. – Rappler.com