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PDEA agents urged to be vigilant after Lanao ambush

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Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency director general Aaron Aquino on Wednesday urged the agency’s employees to take proactive measures against threats and violence.

He told anti-drug agents to stay vigilant against any possible attacks to avoid a repeat of the killings of five of the agency’s agents in Lanao del Sur last Oct. 5.

“As we continue our relentless fight against drug syndicates, I encourage everyone to be vigilant of these lawbreakers who will do everything to perpetuate their illegal activities even to the extent of killing law enforcers who stand on their way,” he said.

“We will not stop, rather, we will double, if need be, triple our effort to accord justice to our agents,” he added.

He encouraged the public to report illegal drug activities to the authorities to help the fight against illegal drugs and their purveyors.

“We will triumph in this fight because PDEA is on the right track in performing its mandate while reassuring the public of its promise to eliminate illegal drugs in the country,” he said.

On Oct. 5, five PDEA agents—Kenneth Tabulo, Kristina Mae Torlao, Lores Joy Amar, Binzo Dipolla and Diobel Pacinio—were killed and two others—Rachel Gentapanan and civilian employee Normina Dicay—were wounded when armed men attacked them in Kapai town in Lanao del Sur.

The incident took place while the agents were on their way to Marawi City after attending a symposium on drug surrenderees in Tagoloan town.

As this developed, authorities said they have already identified and filed criminal cases against eight suspects in the ambush-slaying of the five PDEA agents.

Reports from the Police Provincial Office-10 identified the suspects as Oscar Capal Gandawali, Palawan Salem Macalabo, Lala Lolo Amboloto; Jamal Lolo Amboloto, Mizangcad Panonde Gandawali, Aiman Guro Gandawali, Jamel Borar, alias ‘Memeka,’ William Gandawali and two John Does.

Police said the suspects were believed to be under the employ of a certain Comayug Macapagal, a native of Taagoloan, Lanao del Sur, who is in the drug watch-list personalities in Marawi City.

The police added that one of the suspects, William Gandawali, is the incumbent barangay chairman of Inudaran, Taloloan II and the older brother of Comayug Macapagal, a drug suspect who was recently killed in a police operation.

Suspect Oscar Gandawali, meanwhile, is the son of William Gandawali while Aiman Gandawali is the son of Macapagal and nephew of William. Lala Amboloto and Jamal Amboloto, meanwhile, are brothers who are nephews of Macapagal with another sibling.

Reports said another suspect, Palawan Macalabo, is another nephew to a different brother/sister of Macapagal while Mizangkad Gandawali is a nephew while Jamel Borar is a relative by affinity and an identified associate of Macapagal in the illegal drugs trade.

The two John Does are also believed to be the relatives of the eight suspects.

The PNP and the military had already launched a massive manhunt of the suspects.

Three days after the incident, the court issued a search warrant against William Comayug Gandawali.

Joint elements of the Lanao del Sur police, including Special Action Force ((SAF) and Mobile Force Company operatives and with army troopers from the 2nd Infantry Brigade barged into the reported safehouse of William Gandawali and siezed a cal. 45 pistol, an M16 rifle, ammunitions for cal. 45, M16 and 9mm pistol, a case folder and a hand-sketched paper map.

Gandawali was not around during the search.

The pieces of evidence were brought to Police Drug Enforcement Unit (PDEU) and would be presented to the judge who issued the search warrant while charges relating to illegal firearms and ammunitions Act would be filed against Gandawali.


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