Thirteen persons, including a former barangay captain and a policeman, were killed while four other policemen were wounded in a fierce gunbattle during the service of search and arrest warrants in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao before dawn Saturday.
A report reaching Camp Crame in Quezon City said the subject of the arrest warrant for two counts of murder was former Barangay Captain Datu Pendatun Talusan and four other persons that include three close relatives.
Operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) were on their way to implement the warrants but they were fired at by the group of Talusan at around 3:30 a.m. in Barangay Limbo.
A firefight ensued which prompted local police forces to be deployed, including members of the elite Special Action Force, in the area for augmentation.
Police had a hard time containing the group since Talusan’s house was located in an area difficult to maneuver and the suspects had hiding places reinforced with concrete materials.
Twelve persons from Talusan’s side were killed in the gunbattle that lasted for a few hours. Talusan was among those killed and their cadavers were recovered during clearing operations.
A police commando with the rank of police staff sergeant was killed in the encounter. Four other policemen were wounded – Police Capt. Ronillo Daligdig Jr., Police Patrolman Cayl Jun Gonzales, and Police Corporals John Ryan Aquino and Gyvard Bando from the 4th Special Action Battalion.
Recovered during the clearing operation were five M16 rifles, an M14 rifle, one improvised Barret, one caliber .22 rifle, and two .45 caliber pistols.
Background check showed the group of Talusan was involved in gun-for-hire activities and the illegal drug trade in Cotabato City and Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. His group was also linked to carnapping, robbery, and extortion activities in Maguindanao.
A local court issued an arrest warrant against him and some members of his group last Jan. 18 which served as the basis for the raid. Police also secured a search warrant against the group over reports that Talusan has been keeping a cache of firearms.