Local official insists ‘No Rubout’ in Pikit Operation

By Mark Navales

COTABATO CITY – Local officials debunked allegations of a ‘rubout or massacre’ in a police operation in Pikit, North Cotabato last Dec. 29 that killed five suspects, wounded four policemen and recovered over 400 motorcycles.

North Cotabato Police Provincial Director PCol Henry Villar (2nd right) with Police Region 12 Director PBGen. Alexander Tagum (right) told investigating team from MILF AHJAG chairman Anwar Alamada (center left) GPH-CCCH Dave Junco (center right) and Pikit Mayor Sumulong Sultan (2nd left) with 602nd Brigade commander Col. Jovencio Gonzales (left) that the encounter broke out after several armed men opened fire at a police convoy wounding four policemen who were on their way to serve the arrest warrant against Joel Manampan alias Maula while North Cotabato Police Provincial Director PCol Henry Villar looks on in Barangay Gokotan, Pikit Cotabato.>Handout photo/Mark Navales

In a press conference on Wednesday, Jan. 5, Datu Turno Sultan, president of the town’s Association of Barangay Captains, said: “There was no rubout or massacre during the police operation but was an encounter.”

North Cotabato Police Provincial Director PCol Henry Villar responded to all questions from local reporters during a news conference on Wednesday organized by Cotabato Provincial Police Office while Datu Turno Sultan, president of the town’s Association of Barangay Captains (right) listens and PLt. Col. Ruben Ramos, provincial chief of the PNP-Highway Patrol Group (2nd right). The Press conference held at the provincial Capitol in Kidapawan City.> Mark Navales

Sultan, who lives in a nearby village, made the statement amid allegations from the suspects’ families that the slain suspects were summarily executed during the firefight that lasted for about three hours in Barangay Gokotan.

He said the encounter broke out after armed men opened fire at a police convoy going to serve the arrest warrant against Joel Manampan which wounded four policemen.

PCol. Henry Villar, Cotabato police provincial director, clarified that the area was a haven of lawless elements involved in carnapping, gun-for-hire and illegal drug trade.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) had claimed that the area is under its controlled territory. But Villar said the only recognized MILF camp in North Cotabato is Camp Rajamuda located in Barangay Rajamuda, Pikit.

“Our target based in two warrants of arrest and listed as Most Wanted Person-National Level with reward amounting to Php175,000.00 covered by DILG Memorandum Circulars dated June 11, 2021, is criminal gang leader Joel Manampan alias Maula Manampan,” Villar said

“Satar Kabunto alias Expander was the one who fired at us first even though we used a police-marked vehicle and Joel Manampan alias Maula Manampan the subject person of the warrant of arrest who was able to escape from the operating troops” Villar added.

PLt. Col. Ruben Ramos, provincial chief of the PNP-Highway Patrol Group, said about 20 of the recovered 400 motorcycles were reported carnapped after the owners showed up to the police provincial headquarters with pertinent documents proving their ownership over the stolen vehicles.

Two motorcycle owners appeared during the news conference and alleged that their motorcycles were forcibly taken from them by gun-wielding suspects aboard a motorcycle in Kidapawan City and Tulunan town in 2019 and 2020. 

“Galing ako sa South Cotabato papunta ng Roxas going to Tulunan, huminto ako para uminom lang sana ng tubig ng may huminto sa likuran ko at tinutukan ako at sinabihan ako na relax lang, at nakita ko sa aking unahan na may bumaba rin at nakita ko na may dala rin itong baril at tuluyan ng tinangay ang motor ko,” a carnap victim said.

(“I came from South Cotabato to Roxas going to Tulunan, I stopped to drink water when someone stopped and went behind my back pointing gun and told me to just relax, and I saw another person in front of me and I saw he has a gun also and they took my motorcycle.”)

The local government of Pikit has yet to verify if the Malid Family is granted business permits to run a buy and sell trading of motorcycles in the area amid allegations by the slain suspect’s relatives that they are into legitimate trading of motorcycles. (MN)

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