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Cops nab vice mayor in matrix

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ONE of the local government officials in President Rodrigo Duterte’s matrix of drug lords and protectors was brought to the Department of Justice for inquest on Saturday after he was arrested on drug and gun charges and suspicion of involvement in the Davao City bombing last week.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II confirmed that Talitay, Maguindanao Vice Mayor Abdulwahab Sabal, his wife Mohanna, his bodyguard Nasser Maulana and driver Norodin Abas, faced inquest proceedings shortly after they were arrested in Awang Airport in Maguindanao.

Inquest. Talitay, Maguindanao Vice Mayor Abdulwahab Sabal and his wife Mohanna are escorted to the Department of Justice for an inquest proceeding after he was arrested at the Awang Airport in Maguindanao. Danny Pata

“The respondents had no lawyers during the inquest proceedings,” Aguirre said, adding that the suspects are facing charges of violating the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Aguirre said they are also under investigation for involvement in the Davao City night market blast that killed 14 people and hurt 70 others after the PNP said drug lords may have financed the bombing.

The DOJ chief said the suspects arrived at the department at 10 a.m. and were presented to Assistant State Prosecutor Gino Paolo Santiago for inquest before they were brought to the PNP Detention Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

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“By next week, we will know if there will be a case filed,” Santiago said, adding that Sabal and other suspects were brought to DOJ for inquest because they were arrested at the airport without a warrant of arrest.

The town mayor was arrested on the same day three suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group were nabbed in Zamboanga City Friday.

Supt. Rogelio Alabata, Zamboanga City police spokesman, identified the suspected terrorists as Jamar Musa, 44, Ahmad Tandih, 33 and Omar Kumbing, 36.

Alabata said the three suspects were among the bandits who slipped from Sulu at the height of the military’s massive operations in Patikul town that left 30 Abu Sattaf and 15 soldiers dead.

“The three ASG members allegedly tasked to conduct bombing operations in Zamboanga City as monitored by the intelligence community after the Davao City bombing that killed 14 people and wounded 70 others.

A day after the Davao City blast, Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabel Climaco ordered the intensification of police and military strict security measures against possible terror acts by terrorist at her jurisdiction.

“In fact, we asked for the police and the military to fortify their defenses against potential bomb attack in Zamboanga City,” Climaco said in response to looming threats.

The arrest of the ASG suspects came after personnel of the City’s police office, Special Weapons and Tactics, police Regional Public Safety battalion and Naval Intelligence Security Group conducted operations in Zamboanga City around 3:20 a.m. Friday.

Seized from the suspects were two fragmentation grenades, a caliber 38 revolver with six live bullets and two cellphones. “It is believed that the arrested ASG members belongs to the Ajang Ajang Group,” Alabata said.

Chief Supt. Billy Beltran, acting Zamboanga regional police director, commended his men for a job well done in stopping a possible bombing in Zamboanga City.

The three suspects are now detained at the Zamboanga City Police Station in Sta. Maria.

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