ONE of the principal suspects in the assassination attempt on Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. last February has been arrested by a joint Armed Force of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP in South Cotabato.
Colonel Andre Santos, 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade Commander, reported on Friday that Lomala Baratumo, alias Commander Lomala, 42-years-old, was captured after being intercepted at a military checkpoint in Sitio Morales, Barangay Centrala, Surallah, South Cotabato Thursday afternoon, May 25.
Col. Santos said Baratumo has a standing warrant of arrest in a case of murder where no bail was recommended by the Regional Trial Court Branch 8, 12th Judicial Region in Marawi City. The suspect is also the Police Regional Office Bangsamoro Autonomous Region’s 5th Most Wanted Person and Lanao del Sur’s Most Wanted Person.
The suspect was immediately placed under the custody of the South Cotabato Provincial Police Office and turned over to the Lanao del Sur Provincial Police Office for appropriate disposition.
Baratumo and two other suspects were charged with four counts of murder, three counts of frustrated murder and 22 counts of attempted murder before the Marawi City Regional Trial Court last March 2.
The other two suspects, who are still at-large, were identified as Oscar Gandawali and Acsanie Hadji Salic.
They were identified by the PNP as members of a lawless armed group operating in Maguing and were involved in different criminal activities, including illegal drugs.
Baratumo, Gandawali and Salic are also known for their links with a local terrorist group, the Dawlah Islamiya, that has a reputation for bombing establishments and buses if owners refuse to shell out “protection money” on a monthly basis.
Authorities said witnesses positively identified the three suspects in the ambush.
Efforts to identify the other suspects are still underway and corresponding criminal cases shall be filed against them, the police said.
On February 17, unidentified suspects ambushed Gov. Adiong’s convoy in Wao town. The gun assault resulted in the death of Adiong’s four aides.
The Lanao del Sur governor survived the attack together with his driver and security escort.
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Author: Franco Jose C. Baroña