POLICE forces, armed with warrant of arrest, swooped down the residence of former Basilan congressman Gerry Salapuddin who was tagged as suspect in the Batasan bombing in 2007 but did not find the ex-lawmaker.

Senior Superintendent Cristeto Rey Gonzalodo, Basilan police officer-in-charge, said his personnel led by Superintendent Abubakar Tulawie proceeded to Salapuddin's residence Saturday in the village of Sumagdang, Isabela City to serve the warrant of arrest for multiple murder and frustrated murder.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

"Unfortunately, they were not able to find Gerry Salapuddin in his house," said Gonzalodo, who was installed as Basilan officer-in-charge last week.

"He (Salapuddin) eluded arrest. The police forces cordoned his house in Isabela City but he was not located there," said lawyer Quirino Esguerra Jr., the legal counsel of the family of former Basilan congressman Wahab Akbar, who was killed in the blast.

Akbar and 12 others were killed when a bomb exploded at the Batasan Complex in November 13, 2007, while several others were also injured, including Gabriela Party-list Representative Luz Ilagan and Negros Oriental Representative Pryde Henry Teves.

Gonzalodo said Sumagdang village chief Noel Vergara and an occupant of Salapuddin's residence identified as Adzmar Hamsan stood as witnesses when the policemen searched the house.

Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 83 Judge Ralph Lee last Friday issued the warrant of arrest against Salapuddin, who is one of the seven accused in the bombing.

The other accused are former Tuburan, Basilan mayor Hajarun Jamiri, Police Officer 1 (PO1) Bayan Judda, Benjamin Hataman, Adham Kusain, Ikram Indama, and Caidar Aunal.

Gonzalodo said he ordered the intensified conduct of intelligence surveillance and tracking operations to locate Salapuddin, who could be hiding in his other houses in Basilan province or in Zamboanga City or Quezon City.

The court has recommended no bail for Salapuddin's case. (Bong Garcia)