A MAGUINDANAO mayor, who was tagged by President Rodrigo Duterte as “narco-politician,” and nine of his armed men were killed in a clash past a roadblock in Makilala, North Cotabato at dawn on Friday.
Supt. Bernard Tayong, spokesman for the Cotabato Police Provincial Office, confirmed that Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan town was killed in the “armed engagement” between his group and law enforcers in Barangay Old Bulatukan at about 4:30 a.m.
The identities of the nine other fatalities were not immediately known.
The suspects were on board two vehicles and a police car escort when flagged down at a checkpoint by Region 12 anti-illegal drugs group police team but instead of stopping, the group allegedly opened fire at the lawmen, triggering a firefight.
Tayong said police have received information that Dimaukom’s group was to transport huge stocks of shabu to Maguindanao and Cotabato City from Davao.
“It was a legitimate anti-drug operation but the subjects opened fire on our troops,” Supt. Romeo Galgo Jr., speaking for Police Regional Office 12, said.
He is the first local executive on drug list to be killed.
A witness who saw the crime scene said a police car and a passenger van believed to be in Dimaukom’s convoy were peppered with bullets.
Last September, Dimaukom surrendered to the Philippine National Police chief, Director General Ronald de la Rosa. denying public pronouncements of the President that he was involved in the illegal drug trade in the country.
Despite his surrender, the police raided his house in Datu Saudi Ampatuan but operatives did not find any evidence against him in connection with illegal drugs.
Aside from Dimaukom, Duterte also named several other mayors in Maguindanao, as sources of illegal drugs in the Muslim region and nearby provinces.
The family of the mayor did not immediately release any statement on the incident.
Dimaukom is also known as “Mayor Pink,” having shown fondness for pink, painting his big house and buildings in his hometown pink, including a huge mosque in Maguindanao.
The Pink Mosque in Datu Saudi Ampatuan is one of the beautiful mosques in the province just like the Bolkiah Mosque. The mosque is worth millions, which Dimaukom supposedly built out of his personal funds.
In an interview with The Manila Times, Dimaukom said pink is the favorite color of his wife. He explained that he is using pink as a symbol of love for his fellowmen.
His constituents look up to him as generous leader and an advocate of good governance that when his name was mentioned by the President on the first list of so-called narco-politicians, many were surprised.
WITH AL JACINTO