PNP, Army on alert after village chair’s death

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MIDSAYAP, North Cotabato: Police and military forces in Midsayap, North Cotabato and its environs have been placed on extra heightened alert following the death of a village chair who resisted arrest by shooting it out Tuesday dawn.

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P/Supt. Reynante Delos Santos, Midsayap police director, said policemen, backed by elements of the 40th Infantry Battalion, militiamen and police support groups have been alerted for possible retaliatory attacks from the followers of Ibrahim Simpal or other lawless groups.

According to the police official, Simpal, chairperson of Barangay Ulandang, Midsayap, Cotabato, who had standing warrants of arrest, resisted and opened fire to approaching lawmen at 4 a.m. Tuesday.

Simpal, also known as “Commander Ibo,” sustained multiple gunshot wounds in the body in the 20-minute special police operations.

A police officer who asked to remain anonymous for lack of authority to speak said Simpal was North Cotabato’s most wanted man having three arrest warrants for illegal gun possession and involvement in the illegal drug trade.

The warrants were issued by Judge Alandrex Betoya of Regional Trial Court Branch 16 in Kabacan, North Cotabato for violation of Republic (R.A) 9165 and Republic Act (R.A) 10591 otherwise known as the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002” and “Comprehensive Law on Firearms and Ammunition,” respectively.

Delos Santos could not say whether Commander Ibo belonged or was affiliated to any Moro revolutionary group.

He said that during the operation carried out by joint members of PNP Special Action Force (SAF), Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB), Regional Special Intelligence Division Team (RSIDT) 12, Cotabato police provincial office, his unit and those of the 40th Infantry Battalion only served as back-up forces.

Recalling the operation, Delos Santos said the raiding team entered the compound of Simpal in Barangay Ulandang to serve the warrants for his arrest but were met with gunfire.

A 10-minutes gunfight ensued after which Simpal lay wounded inside his house.

A police car rushed him to Dr. Amado Diaz Provincial Foundation District Hospital in Poblacion, Midsayap where he was declared dead on arrival.

Three of Simpal’s men, identified as Sarul Salik, 21, Kamarudzaman Abusama, 37 and Anas Ebad, 40, were arrested and brought to Cotabato police provincial office in Amas, Kidapawan City for further investigation.

Recovered from Simpal’s house were two M-16 Armalite rifles, a shotgun, a caliber 45 pistol, several rifle grenades and assorted ammunition.

The raiding team also seized what were suspected as prohibited drugs.

In his report, Chief Supt. Lester Camba, police regional director for the SOCCKSARGEN region, said Simpal has also a standing warrant of arrest for multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder issued in 2005 by Judge Cader Indar, Al Haj, then the presiding judge of RTC Branch 13, Cotabato City with no bail recommended.

In the meantime, Simpal’s relatives, as well as village officials and residents opted not to speak when interviewed. PNA

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