DAVAO CITY -- An official said Sunday that there was no breach of security in a shopping mall here where an alleged slay attempt on Buluan town Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu took place.
“There was no lapse in security…The guns were carried inside by uniformed police officers who were on duty as security escort of (Esmael) Mangudadatu,” said City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Mangudadatu and his two security details figured in a ruckus last Thursday inside Gaisano South Mall along Ilustre Street in this city with an alleged supporter of the Ampatuans, who were accused in the November 23 Maguindanao massacre that killed 57 people.
During the incident, gunshots were fired by the police escorts of Mangudadatu on Tamano Kagi Kamendan, the alleged assailant and supporter of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr.
Kamendan was killed in the incident.
Although no civilians and bystanders were hurt, several sectors of this city raised concern that there could have been a breach in security as why guns were allowed inside the shopping center amid the imposition of the election gun ban.
Duterte, however, clarified Sunday that there was no breach in security.
He also said he will talk to Mangudadatu and the Ampatuans to spare Davao from becoming the families’ next battle ground.
“I will not allow that Davao City will be used as a battleground. I will talk to both families…Wag dito sa Davao,” he said.
The mayor also called on the residents of this city to remain calm.
Investigators who are looking into the incident Thursday have received conflicting accounts from Mangudadatu and Kamendan’s wife of what really happened.
Mangudadatu, who is now contesting the Maguindanao gubernatorial post from the stronghold of the Ampatuans, said he was with his two daughters, Margaret and Grace, shopping inside Gaisano South Mall when Kamendan attacked them.
According to one version of the report, Kamendan tried to grab the 11-year-old daughter of Mangudadatu at the fourth floor of the mall’s children’s wear section.
Mangudadatu’s two uniformed police escorts ran to the rescue, made a chase and grappled with the suspect who tried to grab the firearm of one of the policemen.
The firearm, however, went off, hitting the suspect. Kamendan sustained five gunshot wounds from different parts of his body, causing his instantaneous death.
The bodyguards of Mangudadatu were identified as PO1 Ibrahim Langalen and PO1 Surab Bantas of the Police Regional Office-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
The wife of Kamendan, on the other hand, said it was Mangudadatu who ordered his bodyguard to shoot her husband after the two exchanged courtesies with each other.
Natividad de Arce Kamendan, 32, a resident of Shariff Aguak in Maguindanao, said in her affidavit that her husband ran after Mangudadatu ordered his men to shoot him.
She further said she shouted to her husband not to run, but saw the man chasing him draw out a hand gun and then she heard a shot. She added that she, with several sales girls, rushed to a stock room to hide as more gunshots rang out.
Mangudadatu and his two police escorts are now facing murder charges after Natividad filed her complaint last Friday.
The Buluan vice mayor, who was at a medical mission in one of the towns in Maguindanao when he learned about the murder charge, said he will file his counter affidavit.
He said he was surprised that he was included in the case, but stressed he has a lawyer to defend him.
Duterte, for his part, said he will wait for the official report from the investigators regarding the case, adding that the police will interview employees who were on duty at the time of the incident in that section of the mall.
“They shall tell the truth. There is nothing for them (the witnesses) to be afraid of, they just have to tell the truth,” Duterte said. (CPM/Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)