KIDAPAWAN CITY – A militiaman was killed after he allegedly exchanged gunfire with police officers who had raided the house of a North Cotabato village chair in search of loose guns before dawn Friday.
According to Supt. Bernard Tayong of the North Cotabato police, the militiaman, identified as Elias Manumba, was an escort of Elmer Siawan Manumba Sr, chair of Barangay (village) Tagbak, Magpet, North Cotabato.
“He fired first and the police responded,” Tayong told the INQUIRER said of the raid carried out by operatives from Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) North Cotabato, Regional Drug Enforcement Unit of PNP-12, and Regional Police Mobile Force based on search warrants issued against Manumba.
The raiding team was led by Supt Maximo F. Sebastian, head of PNP-12 Regional Police Mobile Force Battalion.
Tayong said the 3 a.m. raid resulted in the recovery of two 12-gauge shotguns, three .45 caliber pistols, an improvised .45 caliber sub-machinegun and a fragmentation grenade.
According to Tayong, police officers had just introduced themselves and were about to present the search warrants when Manumba and a certain Asfrin Andas immediately opened fire.
Manumba alias Dodong was rushed to the nearest hospital but was declared dead on arrival while Andas managed to escape.
Police said Manumba is a member of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit and a nephew of Manumba, who was a former president of the Association of Barangay Chairmen (ABC) and sits as an ex-officio member of the Magpet Sangguniang Bayan (town council).
Manumba, speaking over local radio, denied ownership of the pistols, sub-machinegun and the grenade.
“They were planted by the police, they put the grenade in my house during the supposed search to pin me down,” Manumba said in Filipino.
He admitted, however, that he personally owns the shotguns. He said the guns were for his protection against New Peoples Army rebels that regularly pass through his village.
He also accused the raiding team of robbing him of an undetermined amount of cash.
Tayong said Manumba can file his complaint against the raiding team before the proper forum.
Police said the raid on Manumba’s house came in the wake of the separate gun attacks on Magpet village chairs Emilio Buenavidez and Ferdinand Cariaga.
Police however could not say if the raid was related to the attacks on Buenavidez and Cariaga.
Buenavidez, chair of Barangay Datu Celo and Cariaga, chair of Barangay Sallab, survived the shootings on July 17 and July 10, respectively. /muf
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