KIDAPAWAN CITY – Police authorities in Region-12 (Soccsksargen) have pointed out that their much talked about recent law enforcement operation, which led to the death of five suspects, seizure of 442 motorbikes, and recovery of firearms in Pikit, North Cotabato was “legitimate and above board”.
Brig. Gen. Alexander Tagum, Police Regional Office -12 director, said in a statement Sunday that fake news and lies are being spread by the families of slain suspects who traded shots with lawmen during the December 29, 2021 law enforcement operation.
“The statement of the family spread through the social media was proven to be false,” Tagum said.
Members of the police special action team, backed by soldiers from the Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade, were to serve a warrant of arrest against Joel Manampan alias Maula Manampan in Barangay Gokutan, Pikit, North Cotabato around 3 a.m. on Dec. 29 when an encounter erupted.
The operation led to an hour-long firefight involving the heavily armed men, believed to be behind the carnapping syndicate the police was then to verify.
Five persons were slain in the ensuing firefight and state forces recovered 442 assorted motorbikes, high-powered guns, and improvised bombs. Four police officers were also injured.
However, Manampan managed to escape at the height of the firefight.
Mohidin Dalagonan Mantok, a suspect who voluntarily surrendered, was arrested with an M14 assault rifle with a magazine after the operation.
Tagum said the claims of the victims’ relatives that they operate a legitimate business were incorrect.
Days after the operation, the family and relatives of the neutralized suspects have presented a business permit and a certificate of registration indicating that SMZ Marketing is a legitimate business through social media and that the motorcycles were pawned vehicles.
Tagum said both documents are registered under the name Maysarah Dalid Sager but on different locations wherein the business permit carry the address in Poblacion, Pikit yet on the Certificate of Registration showed it is located in Barangay Gokutan.
He said the SMZ Markering business permit showed it is engaged in “buy and sell” which completely contradicts the statement that the area was a pawnshop for motorbikes, a service not covered under a buy and sell type of business.
The police director said the claim of Sager was further proven after 12 persons with legal certificates of registration and official receipts (CR/OR) of their motorbikes have already claimed their vehicles as of January 6.
The owners claimed their motorbikes were taken forcibly from them.
Tagum said results of the forensic examination conducted on the seized motorcycles showed most of these have tampered chassis and engine numbers.
Colonel Henry Villar, North Cotabato police director, said the area of operation was a known bailiwick of lawless elements and crime syndicates contrary to claims that it was a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) identified camp.
Villar said there is only one MILF camp in Pikit and that is Camp Rajamuda.
Tagum also reminded the public not to easily believe what is being posted by anyone on social media.
“PRO 12 condemns fake information which is widespread nowadays and so I am encouraging everyone to verify the legitimacy of the report before accepting it. Let us keep ourselves informed, but with the accurate information,” Tagum said.
Datu Turno S Sultan, president of the Association of Barangay chairpersons and town councilor, told reporters that upon the arrival of government troops in the area, the armed men immediately opened fire that prompted the operating units to fire back. (PNA)