By Martin Sadongdong
A man considered as a suspect in a bloody encounter between the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) and rebel groups in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, in 2015 was arrested by police in Cotabato City Saturday.
Tamano Esmail Sabpa, whom police identified as a member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), was arrested by a team from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (CIDG-ARMM) and Cotabato City Police Station.
A report from Police Lt. Col. Mary Grace Madayag, CIDG spokesperson, said Sabpa was caught at the parking area of a regional hospital in Cotabato City around 2 p.m.
Oplan Pagtugis is a police operational plan for capturing “national level” most wanted persons (MWP).
According to the report, the police were armed with a warrant of arrest for direct assault with murder issued by Judge Alandrex Betoya of the Cotabato City Regional Trial Court, 12th Judicial Region, Branch 15 dated Jan. 25, 2017.
The report said Sabpa was among the MILF and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) who engaged the SAF troopers deployed for Oplan Exodus, a special mission to neutralize or capture
Malaysian bomb-maker Zulkifli Abdhir alias Marwan at Barangay Tukanalipao in Mamasapano on Jan. 25, 2015.
Marwan was killed by the government forces but 44 SAF troopers, now known as the SAF 44, were killed by the MILF and BIFF in a surprise attack.
According to the police report, an identification card detailing the membership of Sabpa to the MILF was recovered from the suspect.
Sabpa was brought to the CIDG-ARMM station in Cotabato City for documentation.
The court has recommended no bail for Sabpa.