Mayor hails police, tipster for arrest of crime syndicate members

COTABATO CITY, Nov 29 (PNA) — The local executive of Kabacan, North Cotobabato today said the police-led Task Force Kabacan has broken the backbone of crime syndicate which has been sowing terror among the town populace.

Mayor Herlo Guzman Jr of Kabacan said the group that recently neutralized by the local police and military authorities was believed to be behind the rash of bombings in town a week ago that left six persons injured.

“This is a crime syndicate operating with impunity in Kabacan, our police investigation showed someone or somebody is financing the group to sow terror in our town,” Guzman said in Filipino.

The Task Force Kabacan arrested on Friday during a pre-dawn raid Omar Sultan, alias “Derby Menu” and “Gani Manok,” and five others.

High powered guns and explosives were recovered from the house of the suspects in Barangay Lower Paatan, Kabacan, North Cotabato.

“These firearms and explosives clearly show the capability of the group,” Guzman told reporters.

Sultan was tagged by witnesses as the brains behind the five grenade bombing incidents in Kabacan, home to Christian and Muslim population of 81,282.

Supt. Alexander Tagum, North Cotabato police director, in separate interview, said Sultan and his group was also believed to be behind extortion activities in the province, including the bombings of steel towers of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in Pikit, North Cotabato and adjacent town of Pagalungan in Maguindanao.

Five bombings have been carried out against NGCP steel towers this year, police report showed.

Tagum said Sultan and his cohort Rex Bacana were also tagged in several kidnapping cases, highway robbery and grenade throwing for a fee activities.

“I appreciate the information provided by an informant, we really appreciate it,” Mayor Guzman said.

Earlier, Guzman and the local government of Kabacan offered Php50,000 reward money for any information leading to the arrest of the suspected bombers.

North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Mendoza also offered another Php50,000 as bounty to neutralize the suspects saying these people have no place in a place like Kabacan.

Since Supt. Tagum assumed office, close to 50 individuals have been arrested in intensified police law enforcement operations in North Cotabato’s 17 towns and Kidapawan City.

Guzman said two cal. 45 pistols have been recovered from the suspects which were issued to police officers of the province.

Senior Inspector Ronnie Cordero, Kabacan police chief, said Sultan’s group has used many names to confused the authorities. These names include Derby carnapping group which target motorcycles, Sultan kidnapping group and Manok gun for hire.

Mayor Guzman said the group was also linked to the murder of a Kabacan vice mayor three years ago.

Police are still conducting cross matching of the guns seized from Sultan and the empty shells recovered in shooting incidents in Kabacan.

“Bawal ang kriminal sa Kabacan (Criminals are banned in Kabacan),” he said, adding the arrest of six crime suspects was a concerted efforts of the local government, the police, the 7th Infantry Battalion and tipsters.

Guzman did not say whether the reward money will go to the tipster or not. But he said the amount has been offered. (PNA)