COTABATO CITY—Government authorities and Marawi City residents are outraged over the killing of the city police chief in an ambush in his own turf Saturday.
The killing of Superintendent Al Abner Wahab Santos was carried out by unidentified armed men suspected to be behind the series of still-unsolved killings and atrocities in the locality.
“If our own police chief could fall in the hands of still-unpunished criminals, how can we feel safe in our place?” a social sciences professor at the Mindanao State University main campus in Marawi City asked in a phone interview by The Standard.
The professor, who asked not to be named for his own safety, was referring to the ambush of the city police chief past 2 p.m. along a road in Marawi City.
The crime scene, known locally as Sari-manok area of the city’s Luks-a-datu village, gained notoriety for being a place where some people were shot dead in recent incidents. Four popcorn vendors and a tricycle driver were killed in the area last Sept. 3.
Santos, of mixed Tausog-Visayan descent and a native of Pagadian City, was driving a black Mitsubishi Montero en route to the city when unidentified armed men overtook his car and repeatedly shot at it, government authorities said.
The attackers, aboard a similar Montero car, tailed Santos’ vehicle after his half-day long meeting at Kampo Ranao, the base of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade in the city, less than a kilometer from the ambush site, probers said.
Santos sustained multiple gunshot wounds on his head from bullets of still unknown kinds of firearms that caused his instant death, initial reports from the police offices of Lanao del Sur and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the 103rd Infantry Brigade said.
Marawi is the capital of Lanao del Sur and a component of the ARMM.
Col. Roseller Murillo, head of the 103rd Brigade, said some of his troops staged an initial pursuit operation but failed to catch up with the ambushers.
Government investigators were still determining the motive and identities of Santos’ killers.
Standard sources said Santos’ ambush-slay could be related to an alleged fatal torture by cops of a “fall guy” they reportedly arrested and pressed for confession to a recent murder in the city.
They said the slain police official may also have earned the ire of a local political camp that allegedly tried but failed to persuade him into yielding some firearms confiscated earlier by city cops from alleged local illegal drug users and peddlers.
In past interviews, ranking police and military officials claimed that “narco-politics” had in infiltrated Marawi City and Lanao del Sur as well as other Moro communities in the south.