Ex-governor’s son, 4 others killed in shootout at Cotabato checkpoint

THE son of former Maguindanao Gov. Norodin Matalam and four others on Friday night were killed in a shootout with Army soldiers manning a checkpoint in Pikit, North Cotabato.

The firefight took place on the highway in Bgy. Inug-ug in Pikit  at 9 p.m. on Friday.

Soldiers from the Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade tried to stop the suspects in a gray Nissan Patrol for routine inspection.

The troopers claimed that the occupants of the SUV ignored them and suddenly started firing, prompting them to retaliate,  said 602nd IB commander Brig. Gen. Alfredo Rosario.

After the firing stopped, soldiers found the bodies of five suspects, including Datu Hashim Matalam, inside the SUV.

Matalam’s father, Norodin, used to be a Maguindanao governor who became a mayor of Pagalungan municipality.

The other slain suspects were identified as Botod Concon of Matina, Davao City; Alex SanSanduyugan, a resident of Rajamuda, Pikit; Ganto Pasandalan of Tintulan, Pikit; and Abdullah Mamalumpong, a resident of Nunguan, Pikit who was said to be an escapee from the Cotabato Provincial Jail in Kidapawan City.

A local police report said that the troopers were surprised when the driver of the SUV drove so fast while being flagged down before stopping about 10 meters away from the checkpoint. One of the occupants later fired his gun at the soldiers who immediately fired back.

Forensic investigators recovered three M-16 automatic rifles, 13 M-16 steel magazines containing 287 live ammunition, one caliber .45 pistol with six bullets, one fragmentation grenade, one rifle grenade, three heat-sealed plastic sachets containing suspected shabu, various drug paraphernalia, including an improvised tooter and a glass tube, and P15,900 in different denominations inside the bullet-riddled SUV.

The bodies of the five were immediately claimed by their respective families, said Pikit Municipal Police Station chief Capt. Mautin Pangandigan.

Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen Cirilito Sobejana said that the incident is being investigated.

Security troops in the entire Mindanao region have been placed on full alert in the aftermath of the suspected terror bombing in Indanan, Sulu on Friday last week which killed two soldiers, two alleged suicide bombers and a civilian, and wounded 16 others.

Soldiers and policemen have been ordered to arrest any persons found carrying weapons without any authority in the region, which is still under martial law.

With John Christopher Balangatan