DAVAO CITY -- A member of a political clan in Mindanao, along with six armed bodyguards, was apprehended by the police Friday for alleged violation of the government’s gun ban policy.

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) Assemblyman Khadafeh Mangudadatu, brother of Buluan town Vice Mayor Ishmael Mangudadatu whose wife and relatives were killed in the November 23 Maguindanao massacre, and six of his policemen bodyguards were, however, ordered released later on the same day by a Commission on Elections (Comelec) officer in Matanao, Davao del Sur.

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Mangudadatu and his bodyguards were taken into custody after members of Matanao police found several firearms inside their vehicles during a checkpoint Friday and they failed to present a special order from the poll body.

The Matanao police said the convoy of Mangudadatu that was composed of two private vehicles came from this city and was its way to Sultan Kudarat when it evaded the checkpoint in Lion Cogon, Digos City in the morning of January 29.

Policemen from Digos alerted all all other checkpoints in the province and thus Mangudadatu’s convoy was intercepted at a joint police and military checkpoint in Sinawilan, Matanao around 10:35 a.m.

Upon inspection, authorities discovered several high-powered firearms inside the vehicles. Recovered were one M16 Elisco and one 9mm Beretta in the possession of SPO3 Roger Mangudadatu; one M16 Elisco and .45 Armscor in the possession of PO1 Khadaffi Ali; one M16 Elisco in the possession of PO3 Anwar Musali; one M16 A1 Colt in the possession of PO1 Joehali Panigas; one M16 A1 Colt in the possession of Corporal Bernardo Patricio; and one M16 in the possession of Private First Class Renante Alcalde.

Two of these armed bodyguards of Assemblyman Mangudadatu were able to present certification from the Comelec that they are assigned as security details to the Mangudadatu clan member.

Poll body Commissioner Lucenito Tagle, chairman of the Committee on the Ban on Firearms and Security Personnel (CBFSP), however, ordered them released on the same day.

Police Regional Office-Southern Mindanao Director Pedro Tango said Monday that the Matanao police was supposed to file charges against Mangudadatu's four of six security details for failure to show a Comelec permit on the guns they were carrying at the time of the apprehension.

Tango, however, said Tagle called up Davao del Sur provincial police Director Ronald dela Rosa to inform him that Mangudadatu's bodyguards have the Comelec approval to carry firearms.

"Dela Rosa has no reason to doubt Tagle dahil siya mismo ang in charge sa CBSFP. Kaya they released the bodyguards upon the order of the Comelec commissioner," Tango said.

The Mangudadatus earlier requested for additional bodyguards from the poll body, claiming they continue to receive death threats after the Maguindanao massacre that killed 57 people, including journalists.

Last month, Tango said politicians are only allowed to have two security details upon approval by the Comelec. He said any politicians caught with bodyguards that have no corresponding permit from the poll body will be charged along with their security details.

On Monday, however, Tango explained that under "exceptional cases," Comelec Manila allocates more than two security details for politicians. He said they have no control of such since it's the poll body’s office in Manila that has the last say on the matter. (BOT/Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)