CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Authorities launched a manhunt for the suspects in the February 17 ambush of Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. in Maguing town, as negotiations for their surrender failed.
Adiong’s brother, Lanao del Sur 1st District Representative Zia Adiong said the League of Municipalities of the Philippines-Lanao del Sur chapter attempted to negotiate with the suspects, but they did not respond to the appeal for surrender.
“There’s never any reply from the perpetrators’ relative to the appeal of surrender,” Zia said.
Bangsamoro Interior Minister Naguib Sinarimbo has announced that authorities have identified at least 10 suspects, and police said the group has links to a drug syndicate that is known to plant marijuana and engage in selling illegal firearms.
Police said the suspects are considered armed and dangerous, and the public has been advised to report any sightings to the authorities.
The attack on Adiong has sent shockwaves throughout the region, with many expressing their concern for the safety of public officials and civilians alike.
Lanao del Sur police spokesperson Major Alvison Mustapha identified one “Kumander Lumala” and Oscar Gandawali as leaders of the suspects involved in the recent ambush.
A motorcycle allegedly owned by Lumala was confiscated at the scene of the crime in Barangay Delimbayan in Maguing town.
Gandawali was one of the suspects implicated in the ambush of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agents in Kapai town, Lanao del Sur in 2018, which resulted in five deaths and two injuries.
On February 17, police and PDEA agents conducted a raid in Barangay Bato-bato, Maguing town, where they uprooted 25,489 marijuana shrubs that were allegedly planted by Lumala and Gandawali.
Just hours later, Adiong’s convoy was attacked by gunmen positioned on both sides of the road as it passed through the same area.
Four of the governor’s security aides were killed, while Adiong, who was in the third vehicle, was wounded and taken to Cagayan de Oro for treatment.
A photo released by the Adiong family showed the governor recovering from surgery at the Polymedic Hospital in Cagayan de Oro, where a bullet slug was removed from his right hip.
“Akala ko patak nang ulan ang tumama sa sasakyan namin. Yun pala mga bala na (I thought rain drops were falling on our vehicle. It turned out to be bullets),” Adiong recalled.
He asked mayors and residents of Lanao del Sur to report anyone associated with drug syndicates in the province.
“I am not scared to fight illegal drugs. If I am afraid, who will defend my constituents against them?” Adiong said. – Rappler.com
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