THREE people died and six others were wounded when a firefight ensued after some 54 members of the police and military failed to serve the warrant of arrest to a prisoner who bolted out from the Lanao Provincial Jail in September this year.
The Lanao del Norte Provincial Police Safety Company (PPSC), Police Regional Intelligence Unit (RIU) and 41st Infantry Battalion of the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army comprised the joint operation conducted in Barangay Piraka in Sultan Naga Dimaporo town in Lanao del Norte on Friday, November, 27.
Police Senior Superintendent Madid Paitao, Lanao del Norte police director, told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro by phone that there was no coordination from the arresting team with his office.
“Doon sila nag coordinate sa company commander ng PPSC ko parang na-bypass yung office ko,” Paitao said.
Paitao only knew the operation when the team asked for reinforcement.
However, Police Superintendent Gervacio Balmaceda, Police Regional Office spokesperson, denied any lack of coordination since RIU coordinated with Lanao PPSC.
“They coordinated with the police in the locality as part of the standard operating protocols and procedures. The coordination is internal to them,” Balmaceda explained.
Those who died were two female teachers whose van was only passing by Barangay Piraka and an alleged member of the armed group that provided security to the jail escapee, Walid Indie Mandagla.
One of the female teachers is identified as Auxilia Sabaduquia, about 40 years old and a resident in Cagayan de Oro. Her wake is being held in Carbide Village in Iligan City. A bullet was stuck in her heart.
Three others from the van including the driver were also hurt.
“Hindi nakining yung driver ng van at akala siguro nung armed group na isinakay doon yung mga sugatang police at gusto nilang purohan kaya nila nirakrakan yung van,” Balmaceda said.
Balmaceda disclosed that Mandagla found out the arrival of the composite team that gave his armed group time to position and pin down the approaching team resulting to the firefight.
While inside his house, Mandagla held his wife hostage while threatening to lob the grenade he was holding that paved his escape.
Balmaceda said Mandagla has a P500,000 reward for his capture.
He added the team failed to shoot the suspect fearing civilians might be caught in the crossfire as Mandagla's armed group possesses high-powered firearms while shooting indiscriminately.
“Disadvantageous yung grupo at nasa ambush position naman yung armed group kaya panay yung pagpapaputok nila,” Balmaceda said.
Meanwhile, the two police and a soldier who were wounded during the firefight are now in stable condition.
Police Officer 1 (PO1) Arafat Ali and PO1 Craig Ken Leandres of Lanao Norte PPSC and a certain Sergeant Marquez of Alpha Coy of the 41st IB were wounded during the clash. Ali was hit on his left thigh and waist while a bullet hit Leandres’ left chest and Marquez was wounded on his jaw line.
Balmaceda said the armed group was already identified but he refused to name it as the investigation is still ongoing.
“Hinihintay na lang natin yung complainant para makasuhan na itong grupong ito which is malaking grupo talaga kasi kita natin high powered firearms yung gamit,” Balmaceda added.