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CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao – A large force of 300 police and military personnel, backed by 10 armored personal carriers and two helicopter gunships, raided Thursday the home of a Maguindanao mayor publicly accused by President Duterte of involvement in the illegal drugs trade.
However, the raiders, led by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group who were armed with 12 search warrants, managed to seize only seven sachets of suspected shabu, two .45 caliber pistols, and an M16 assault rifle from the home of Mayor Montasir Sabal of Talital.
Sabal was not around during the operation.
The MG-520 helicopters fired rockets and machineguns around the house of Sabal to prevent his followers from engaging the raiders as they entered the residence.
Senior Insp. Rasul Pandulo, spokesperson of the Maguindanao police, said only caretakers and a sick relative of the mayor were in the house. The relative was taken to a hospital by the police.
The raiders also searched the nearby house of Vice Mayor Abdulwahab Sabal, who is detained in Camp Crame, Quezon City after his arrest for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Lt. Col. Markton Abo, spokesperson of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the use of air assets was necessary because the Sabals are known to have armed followers.
Duterte has accused the Sabals of being among Maguindanao’s narcopoliticians.
Abo said the houses of an incumbent member of the ARMM regional assembly and the chairman of the association of barangay captains in Talitay, both relatives of the Sabals, were also raided.
He said the operation was coordinated with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to avoid mis-encounters.
The search warrants were issued by Regional Trialw Court Branch 13 Judge Bansawan Ibrahim. (PNA)