Senior Supt. Emmanuel Peralta, CPPO provincial director, said the raiding team’s target were Guiamadel Sandigan and his brother Anwar Sandigan with arrest warrants for violation of Republic Act 10591 and RA 9516 for illegal possession of explosives.
The targets, however, escaped but the team arrested Jokrie Andong Buisan, who was found inside the house of Anwar holding a live Model 34 or M34 grenade.
Peralta said the raid was conducted in the presence of Jose Sagadan Sr., chairman of Barangay Dungguan, Mlang town.
Seized from the houses of the suspects in the villages of Dungguan and Inas were one M-67 fragmentation grenade, bomb-making materials like blasting caps, detonating cord, mobile phone, batteries, two motorcycles with questionable registrations and a home-made Uzi sub-machinegun.
A manhunt is underway for the Sandigan brothers while law enforcers in Mlang Municipal Police Station were preparing charges for the arrested suspect Buisan.
The raid was conducted by combined forces of the Cotabato Police Provincial Office (CPPO) and the Philippine Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade of the 6th Infantry Division on late Tuesday afternoon.|
Peralta did not provide other details on the suspects but sources from intelligence authorities said the brothers were among the militants personally trained by international bomber Marwan.
Marwan was killed on January 25, 2015 in an anti-terror operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao that also resulted in the death of 44 members of the Special Action Force, 18 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and five civilians.
It was not immediately known whether the fugitives were the same “person of interest” being eyed as behind the December 31, 2015 bombing in Mlang.
The New Year’s Eve bomb attack left two women dead and 33 others wounded. It was initially blamed on radical groups operating in Central Mindanao such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and Al-Khobar.
Meanwhile, bomb experts from the Army’s Explosives and Ordnance Division (EOD) defused in Sultan Kudarat town, Maguindanao a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) on Tuesday night.
Colonel Earl Baliao, commander of the 603rd Infantry Brigade, said the traffic between Cotabato City and North Cotabato was interrupted for about two hours while the EOD team deactivated the 60 mm mortar with a two-way hand-held radio as trigger device.
Baliao said a man named Norodin Alba found a suspicious package beside the highway in Barangay Rebuken and quickly informed the soldiers of the 37th Infantry Battalion in a nearby detachment.
Senior Supt. Nickson Muksan, Maguindanao police director, said the IED was similar to that used in the September 2 Davao City night market bombing that claimed the lives of 14 civilians and wounded 67 others.
Similarly, earlier on Tuesday, Army Sgt. Ricor Bati-on of the 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade was slightly injured when an IED set off along Barangay Lower Salbu, Datu Saudi Ampatuan.
The outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters was blamed for the blast that happened at about 9:30 a.m.
“So immediately our troops together with the police responded and cordoned off the area while waiting for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal, upon arrival of the Army EOD team, the IED [improvised explosive device]was disrupted,” Baliao said.
The IED, he added, consists of three 60mm projectiles for Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG), an Icom transceiver radio, wires and AAA batteries.
“[The rocket-propelled grenade, if you will notice, is not in the inventory of the Army. This is commonly used by the rebels],” Baliao said.
An investigation, he added, is being conducted to determine what groups planted the improvised bomb.
A number of local terrorist groups are operating in the South, notably the Abu Sayyaf Group, the Maute group that recently recently staged a daring jailbreak in Marawi City freeing 23 detainees and the Ansarul Khilafah in the Philippines (AKP).
Although there may be other purposes in the planting of the bomb along the highway of Barangay Rebukin as some families are also involved in the so-called rido or feuds between families or clans, the military, Baliao said is sure that local terrorists are the culprits.
The military official explained that although the bomb used in the Davao blast and the ones recovered in Sultan Kudarat are both 60mm, they differ on the type. The former was being used in mortar and the latter for RPG.
When asked if the recovery of the IED is related to the Davao bombing, Baliao said the investigation is continuing and there are several angles that are being looked into.
Authorities earlier said the ASG most likely carried out the attack on President Rodrigo Duterte’s home city in response to a military offensive launched against it last week.
Duterte, who was in Davao at the time of the attack but not near the market, told reporters before dawn on Saturday that it was an act of terrorism, as he announced extra powers for the military under a “State of Lawlessness.”