‘Oplan Pagtugis’ nets Mamasapano carnage suspect in Maguindanao

‘Oplan Pagtugis’ nets Mamasapano carnage suspect in Maguindanao

COTABATO CITY–One of the gunmen involved in the infamous Mamasapano encounter that took the lives of 44 elite police unit members in 2015 in Maguindanao was arrested Sunday, police said.

Chief Insp. Esmael Madin, chief of Maguindanao Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), said Monday that suspect Rolando Samal, also known as “Blackmoro Samal” and “Rex Samal” was nabbed in his home in the village of Manungkaling, Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Samal was collared around 4:30 p.m. by combined agents of the CIDG and Maguindanao police personnel under OPLAN Pagtugis and OPLAN Omega (Most Wanted Person-National Level).

The raiding team was armed with an arrest warrant for 44 counts of direct assault with murder issued by Judge Alandrex Betoya of Regional Trial Court Branch 15 in Cotabato City.

Madin said a search of Samal’s house led to the recovery of an unlicensed .45 caliber pistol and ammunition.

“Someone tipped us about his presence in the village and after confirming the report through our agent, we launched the implementation of arrest warrant,” Madin said of Samal who did not resist arrest but denied he was part of the gunmen who massacred Philippine National Police-Special Action Force unit during the 2015 incident.

On January 25, 2015, clashes erupted between Moro gunmen, believed to be a combined group of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and the SAF unit after the latter neutralized in the area Malaysian-born terror bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, from the Al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah militant group.

The MILF, which is now engaged in a peace negotiation with the government, described the incident as a “misencounter,” saying the operation had not been coordinated with them.

Samal is now under CIDG custody and will be moved to Manila to face the charges against him. Edwin Fernandez/PNA-northboundasia.com