Police: Pamatong is ‘armed and dangerous’

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — Controversial lawyer Ely Pamatong is “armed and dangerous” and has maintained at least 30 camps throughout the country, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) has warned.

Pamatong, a colorful political figure who has gained notoriety for his antics, was nowhere to be found when authorities implemented a search warrant and recovered a handgun and two grenades in his compound in Brgy. Tablon here last August 31.

Authorities had originally targetted Pamatong’s cache of firearms during the raid, said Senior Police Officer 4 Noel Oclarit, CIDG chief investigator.

It was possible that Pamatong, Oclarit said, had been tipped off of the raid in his premises, and carted away the firearms together with his followers.

Because of this, Oclarit said they viewed Pamatong and his cohorts as “armed and dangerous” and that the public is urged to inform authorities of the group’s whereabouts.

Oclarit said Pamatong’s group maintains around 30 camps all over the country, “and they could be in one of those camps.”

Pamatong, who was suspended last year by the Supreme Court from practicing law for two years due to corruption, is the leader of the “USA Freedom Fighters of the East (USAFFE)”.

His antics, which included burning the flags of some countries he deemed hostile to the Philippines, have largely been ignored by authorities. Early this year, Pamatong declared himself to be the legitimate president of the Philippines.

Pamatong has been seen in public clad in military regalia, complete with badges and accessories. His Facebook posts also show him and his followers brandishing firearms.

Pamatong’s activities have largely been dismissed by authorities as theatrics, until some of USAFFE members were arrested last month for trying to enter Marawi City in fake military uniforms.

Police said Pamatong allegedly ordered his members to “reinforce” government troops in Marawi City, where the terrorist Maute group has been laying siege for three months.

Oclarit warned Pamatong’s followers they can be charged with violation of RA 10591 for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition; RA 9516, for alleged illegal possession of explosives; and RA 8491, for inverting the Philippine flag. Jigger Jerusalem/PNA-northboundasia.com