FIREARMS and ammunitions were seized in a simultaneous raid by the Martial Law Special Action Group (MLSAG) in Cagayan de Oro City on Friday morning, July 28.
Armed with a search warrant issued by a local court, MLSAG raided the houses of Jalaludin Bacaraman Lao in Mindanao Homes, Pagatpat and brothers Jabar and Jamelodeng Tago at Zone 5, Bonbon village.
Authorities arrested Jameloding while Lao and Jabar were not present during the operations.
Seized from Lao's house were an M4 5.56mm rifle, two caliber 45 pistol, a caliber 38 pistol and assorted bullets while confiscated from the Tagos were an M4 5.56mm rifle, AK47 rifle, two caliber 40 pistol, five caliber 45 pistol, three 9mm pistol, and assorted ammunition.
Captain Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesperson of the army's 4th Infantry Division (4ID), said while the targets may likely face illegal possession of firearms and ammunition charges, Lao has also been linked to gun smuggling in Northern Mindanao.
"Lahat sila ay illegal possession of firearms but what distincts the two is that yung sa Pagatpat is smuggling of guns and ammos," Martinez said.
Martinez added that Lao has direct link with the confiscation of the 8,000 rounds of high powered bullets supposedly intended for Marawi City at a warehouse in Camaman-an, this city, last June.
He said witnesses' accounts point to Lao as an illegal arms dealer in the region.
"May mga witnesses lalo na sa transactions na may common denominator. Yung pangalan niya lumalabas sa mga witnesses at lahat nagtuturo sa kanya," Martinez said.
"May reports din na sa kanya binabagsak at siya din nag-proliferate sa areas ng Northern Mindanao kasi marami siyang market," Martinez added.
Martinez said the communist rebels are also possibly getting their ammo supplies from Lao.
"There is also possibility na yung mga NPA sa kanya (Lao) kumukuha ng contraband," Martinez added.
On the other hand, intelligence reports saying the Tagos are allegedly possessing illegal guns has prompted authorities to search their residence.
Martinez said the Tagos' identities were figured after the February 19, 2017 shootout outside the "Ukay-ukay" store owned by Jabar at Yacapin-Daumar Streets, this city, that left three people dead including Jabar's relative who attends the store.
Operatives went to Jabar's store where documents and papers were handed to authorities to justify the legality of the firearms.
"Under verification sa CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group) and documents na binigay nila. Nakuha natin pangalan niya after sa incident sa Cogon. So kailangan gampanan natin tungkulin natin na-icheck yung mga firearms na gamit ng mga sibilyan," Martinez said.
Authorities also searched a mosque located inside the compound of the Tagos.
"It was also subjected of the search. Yung mosque is inside the compound of Jabar. Di pa natin alam if privately owned yun," Martinez added.
Martinez said while the government forces is addressing the situation in Marawi City, the 4ID is working on finding and intercepting the roots and origin of war materiel that could be supplied to lawless groups.
He said the intent of the military is to arrest and put an end to illegal transactions as he even said more persons of interests will be subjected to MLSAG operations once evidences are developed.
"Matagal na silang minanmanan mahirap kasi mag-alleged ng tao kaya very careful ang plans and operations kasi dapat sure tayo. Very essential din ang mga information and its developing story that could lead to another story na pwede nating maging subject sa operation in the future,"Martinez said.