By Martin Sadongdong
A man accused of being a notorious sniper of the Maute terror group was arrested by authorities in Quezon City after months of hiding and resting in Metro Manila, the Philippine National Police (PNP) disclosed on Tuesday.
PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde identified the arrested suspect as Unday Macadato, legal age. He was nabbed by members of the National Capital Region Police Office’s Regional Police Intelligence and Operations Unit (NCRPO-RPIOU) after a concerned citizen reported him while brandishing a gun along Felix Manalo Street, Cubao, Quezon City around 4:55 p.m. Monday.
Interrogation conducted by the police later revealed that Macadato was listed 509th in the Martial Law General Order Number 1 which calls for the apprehension of personalities involved in the rebellion in Mindanao. Albayalde said the list includes the names of more or less 1,000 personalities.
“Kapag mainit sila sa Mindanao they come here, they rest, they earn money. ‘Yun ang front nila kaya hindi sila nanggugulo sa Metro Manila,” Albayalde said.
(If they are being pursued in Mindanao, they come here [in Metro Manila], they rest, they earn money. That’s their front so they don’t engage in terror activites in Metro Manila.)
“Safe haven nila itong Metro Manila. White area ito dahil pupunta sila rito para mag lie-low, magpahinga, maghanap-buhay and when they earn money, they bring it back to Mindanao para bumili ng explosives at ammunition,” he added.
(Metro Manila is their safe haven. This is a white area because they come here to lie-low, to rest, earn a living and when they earn money, they bring it back to Mindanao to buy explosives and ammunition.)
Led by brothers Omar and Abdullah Maute, the Maute terror group laid siege in the Islamic city of Marawi on May 23, 2017 which resulted in thousands of casualties from the civilian and government side and the terror group.
According to Albayalde, Macadato will be charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives after a caliber .45 pistol and grenade were seized from him during the arrest.
He was brought to the NCRPO-RPIOU detention facility for further investigation.
The PNP has yet to determine how deep was the onvolvement of Macadato in the Maute terror group. However, NCRPO Director Camilo Pancratius Cascolan said that Macadato was “a very dangerous sniper” who actively participated in the Marawi siege.
“A sniper is different from working on the field. Snipers are trained in such a way that you have to kill a person with only one bullet. Itong snipers, hindi sila masyadong nakikita ng mga tao, sila ang pumapatay sa mga tao natin. Very dangerous (These snipers, they are not usually seen by the people, they are the ones who kill our men. [They are] very dangerous,” he said.
He added that they were determining if Macadato has plans of launching an offensive attack in Metro Manila.
“There’s always a big probability. These are terrorists, walang patatawarin ito (they don’t hesitate to kill). That’s why we are securing Metro Manila,” he said.
Albayalde added the arrest was one good indication “that our men are doing target-hardening measures to secure the country from possible terror attacks.”
Although little is still known about Macadato, Albayalde bared that he is a former security aide of a “VIP” (very important person) in Mindanao.
Albayalde also assured that an air-tight case will be built to avoid the shame that the PNP faced after charges against a foreign man accused of being a terrorist was dropped by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Fehmi Lassqued was arrested in February by the NCRPO and he was said to be a former commander of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) who came to the Philippines to recruit members.
However, DOJ prosecutors dismissed the case filed by the PNP against Lassqued due to lack of evidence.