ILIGAN CITY – The assistant director of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) died after he was hit by a stray bullet around 9 a.m. Thursday, September 7, while at the gate of the main campus of Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi City.
Marvin Ablando, 45, and his companion, CSC-ARMM director Sandra Arnica Uzman, were on their way out of the campus to go to the Provincial Capitol when their vehicle was hit by a stray .50 caliber bullet.
The two were immediately rushed to Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi City but Abando didn't make it alive; while Uzman, who sustained a minor head wound, is now out of danger and recuperating at her home.
Captain Mike Malacad of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division’s Public Affairs Office explained that the maximum range of the .50 caliber rifle or gun is 6,812 meters (7,450 yards) while its maximum effective range is 1,829 meters (2,000 yards).
In a press briefing, on September 7, ARMM Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesman for the Provincial Crisis Management Committee of Lanao del Sur, said the incident highlights the continuing danger for civilians going back to their respective homes despite the declaration of the military that some areas outside the main battle area are already cleared of ISIS-inspired extremists.
Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesperson of the Joint Task Force Marawi, clarified that cleared areas are not necessarily safe from stray bullets. Petinglay said the more appropriate term would be for these areas are "controlled areas".
“In controlled areas, we have control over the entries and exits including the security condition inside (Marawi). We still have to investigate where the bullet came from since about the same time yesterday our helicopters were being shot by terrorists,” Petinglay said.
In the past months, stray bullets also hit the compound of the Provincial Capitol, wounding some evacuees staying in the provincial evacuation center.
The first casualty of a stray bullet that hit outside the battle zone was the 15-year-old boy who was praying inside the mosque near the army’s brigade.
Last June, Australian journalist Adam Harvey was also hit by stray bullet while on coverage.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 09, 2017.