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ARMM governor to suspend mayor

COTABATO CITY – Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Mujiv Hataman will issue a directive indefinitely suspending the mayor of Talitay, Maguindanao today for absence without official leave in violation of the Local Government Code in the ARMM.

Hataman said Talitay Mayor Montasir Sabal, who was named by President Duterte as a narco politician in Mindanao, has not been reporting for work for several months.

Montasir’s younger brother Abdulwahab was arrested last September on charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives and is detained in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Hataman said Talitay has been “headless” with the continued absence of Mayor Sabal who has been in hiding.

Three hundred policemen and soldiers, backed by 10 armored personnel carriers and two helicopter gunships and armed with 12 search warrants, raided Mayor Sabal’s home in Talitay Friday but he was not there. Unlicensed guns and illegal drugs were seized from his home in Barangay Poblacion.

Authorities also raided the house of Vice Mayor Sabal, ARMM Assemblyman Sidik Ameril, and the house of the Association of Barangay Chairmen president.

Hataman said he has directed his local government secretary, lawyer Datu Kirby Abdullah, to draft a suspension order for Sabal not just for drugs and illegal possession of guns but for his long absence from office. “I was told that Mayor Sabal has been absent from office for many weeks now,” Hataman said.

On the case of Ameril who has been out of the office for two months, Hataman said it is up to Datu Ronnie Sinsuat, speaker of the ARMM assembly, to act on Ameril’s case. “The suspension order shall be out Monday next week,” he said.

The Sabals have denied involvement in the illegal drugs trade. Mayor Sabal, a former policeman before joining politics, denied that he has been maintaining a shabu laboratory but admitted that he was once a drug pusher in Quiapo, Manila. (PNA)