A former mayor in Maguindanao was shot dead while allegedly trying to escape and shoot it out with his police escorts on Thursday.
Former Maguindanao Mayor Montasir Sabal was arrested at the Port of Batangas at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, together with his companions Philippine National Police Chief General Guillermo Eleazar said in a press conference at Camp Crame.
Sabal had been tagged as involved in the deadly 2016 night market bombing in Davao City, Eleazar said, citing intelligence information.
He was being transported to Camp Crame early Thursday when he allegedly grabbed a gun from a cop and shot one of his escorts.
“Sabal shot one of the escorts but failed to hurt the cop, who was wearing a vest,” Eleazar said.
He said Sabal was one of the suppliers of arms and explosives to rogue Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
The ex-mayor was also found to be one of the planners of the Davao bombing, which the BIFF has claimed responsibility for, Eleazar added.
At least 12 people were killed, and dozens were injured when an explosion ripped through the night market on Davao City’s Roxas Street on September 2, 2016.
During the arrest of Sabal’s group on Wednesday at the Port of Batangas, police operatives recovered firearms and suspected illegal drugs.
Eleazar said one of Sabal’s possible motives was to use the firearms for the upcoming elections.
“We are in an election season, and as a supplier of armaments and ammunition to the BIFF, the police suspected that Sabal was looking for connections ins selling the guns,” he said in Filipino.
Sabal had arrest warrants for illegal possession of explosives and for illegal drugs. The former mayor was also considered a high-value target, as he was a former police officer recruited and trained by the Special Action Force (SAF) on an explosive ordnance disposal course, Eleazar said.
Sabal was also considered a narco-politician guilty of dishonesty and neglect of duty, and his conviction by the Supreme Court was promulgated in November 2018.
His companions were documented so that appropriate cases could be filed against them, Eleazar added.