Maguindanao vice mayor faces gun charges

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday ordered the filing of criminal charges against Vice Mayor Abdulwahab Sabal of Talitay town, Maguindanao and three others for illegal possession of firearms, explosives and illegal drugs.

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The 11-page DOJ resolution indicted Sabal, his wife Mohanna, bodyguard Nasser Maulana and driver Norodin Abas.

Police recovered from Sabal and four others an improvised explosive device—a 60 mm mortar—with batteries and cellphone attached; two apple and cacao-type grenades with trigger pin mechanism, an M-16 rifle and other firearms.

“Jurisprudence is settled that what the law requires is mere possession which includes not only actual physical possession but also constructive possession of the subjection of thing to one’s control and management. On this principle, respondents may be said to be in joint possession of [seized firearms and explosives],” the ruling stated.

On September 8, Sabal and his co-respondents were nabbed by the Special Operations Unit of the Philippine National Police Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (PNP-AIDG) at Awang Airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

A total of 12 sachets with over 72 grams of shabu were seized from Mohanna’s bag. For this, the DOJ recommended the filing of charges of possession of illegal drugs against her.

“[C]oupled by evidence showing that the firearms are not licensed/registered and that the explosives have no records available, respondents are probably guilty of violations of Section 28 (a) and Section 28 (c) of Republic Act 10591 {Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act]… In addition to the foregoing, Johanna Sabal was found in possession of 12 sachets containing a total of 72.256 grams of a substance that was subsequently shown positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu,” the Justice department said.

The ruling was signed by Assistant State Prosecutor Gino Santiago and approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon and Prosecutor General Claro Arellano.

Sabal and his elder brother, Mayor Montasir Sabal of Talitay, were among the local officials named by President Rodrigo Duterte as politicians linked to illegal drugs.

The Sabal brothers have denied involvement in the drug trade. Jomar Canlas

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