Central Mindanao updates
LATEST UPDATE: October 15, 2019 - 1:00pm
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Three suspected drug dealers were killed in a gunfight Monday with a police team that tried to search for narcotics in their hideout in President Quirino town.

Tato Dilangalen, Alano Sepi Usop and a relative named Big Boy Sepi Usop all died on the spot from multiple bullet wounds.

Personnel of the Sultan Kudarat provincial police were supposed to implement a search warrant Tacurong City Regional Trial Court Branch 20 when the suspects resisted and they were shot, police said.

Investigators found a fragmentation grenade, a pistol and several sachets of shabu in the house where the three suspects were killed.

The suspects had been under surveillance for their distribution of shabu in President Quirino and in neighboring towns in Sultan Kudarat province. — The STAR/John Unson 

October 8, 2019

Authorities arrested Monday a 42-year-old woman who tried to smuggle shabu into the South Cotabato provincial jail, where her husband is detained for drug trafficking, by hinding it in her shoes.

Joy Gallego Macera of Barangay Avanceña in Koronadal City was intercepted by guards in the South Cotabato Rehabilitation and Detention Center, acting on tips from neighbors who knew about her plan to bring in shabu for her husband, Jeffrey Macera.

Jeffrey is in detention for charges of violating the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. — The STAR/John Unson

 

October 4, 2019

Units of the Police Regional Office-12 arrested 10 large-scale shabu peddlers, one of them a woman, in two days of operations in different central Mindanao provinces.

In a statement Friday, the PRO-12 says among those nabbed in the simultaneous operations from early Tuesday until late Wednesday were a woman and two others distributing shabu in different barangays in Polomolok town in South Cotabato.

The suspects?—Ailyn Celiz, Mark Jil Española, Alfredo Pescasiosa?—are now detained.

Kim Benjie Rafael Sadiang and Michael Permetes Dequina were arrested in separate raids in nearby Tantangan town also in South Cotabato.

PRO-12 says Ryan Maladia, Bualan Salaysay and Cerado Morales were arrested in Malapatan town in Sarangani, in Kidapawan City and in Surallah, South Cotabato, respectively.

Mark James Pama Villaruz also fell in an entrapment operation in Kidapawan City on the same day.

The last to fall was Jonathan Viray, caught in Cotabato City while in the act of selling shabu to a police officer disguised as a drug dependent. ?— The STAR/John Unson

September 18, 2019

A woman sustained a bullet wound when armed guests to a wedding in a remote barangay in Midsayap town in North Cotabato fired guns overhead in revelry that scared villagers in farming enclaves nearby.

The stray bullet incident comes amid an ongoing government campaign against loose firearms. -- The STAR/John Unson

September 11, 2019

A joint police-Army team arrested six "contract killers" and seized their rifles, pistols and grenades in an operation in Pikit town in this province early Tuesday, authorities say.

Toto Panares, Ibrahim Guimalan, Jonathan Batunga, Ibrahim Katogan, Bohari Katogan and Kus Minga yielded peacefully when agents of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-12 and the Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion barged into their hideout in Barangay Unug-ug in Pikit to search for firearms and explosives.

The operation, assisted by the North Cotabato provincial police, was based on warrants issued by a local court. — The STAR/John Unson

September 5, 2019

Authorities say they have nabbed Central Mindanao’s most wanted drug dealer who is a senior member of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in a hospital.

The 43-year-old Samad Masgal, most known as BIFF’s Commander Madrox, was admitted in the Cotabato Regional Medical Center here on August 31 for an injury that led to the amputation of his left arm. — The STAR/John Unson

September 2, 2019

Anti-narcotics agents seized P120,000 worth of compressed marijuana from a large-scale peddler who fell in an entrapment operation Sunday, authorities say.

Suharto Kusain, 24, is now in the custody of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-12 after being arrested in a buy-bust operation in Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat.

Naravy Duquiatan, director of PDEA-12, says Monday that Kusain got his supply of marijuana from a grower in North Cotabato province.

Kusain is among PDEA-12’s top ten most wanted marijuana trafficker in central Mindanao.

PDEA-12 agents nabbed another drug dealer in an operation in Barangay Fatima in General Santos City a day before Kusain was arrested.

Claudie Diola, 36, was cornered by PDEA-12 agents after two weeks of surveillance.

Diola doubled as tricycle driver as cover for his large-scale trafficking of shabu in different barangays in General Santos City. — The STAR/John Unson

August 30, 2019

Authorities are cautioning residents of Magpet, North Cotabato against people claiming to be organizing a local group of the Moro National Liberation Front.

Two of the recruiters, spouses Lito and Michelle Andi, were arrested this week for illegal possession of firearms.

The police team that raided their hideout in Magpet also seized a pack of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) from the two.

Police say Andi and his wife were recruiting MNLF members, promising them humanitarian support, employment and other assistance from foreign benefactors.

The MNLF forged a peace deal with Malacañang in 1996 that ended the group’s revolutionary activities in the south, particularly the provinces in what is now the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Magpet Mayor Florentino Gonzaga says Friday he has warned his constituents against joining the group, which has been collectiong "admission fees" from their recruits.

He says the group has recruited at least 200 people. -- The STAR/John Unson

August 28, 2019

Three elusive large-scale drug traffickers fell in an entrapment operation Tuesday by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion.

Tapia Malingco Matucan, Amier Rasul Mama and Chenny Espiritu Tallorin are now in the custody of PDEA-12.

They will be prosecuted for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

Matucan, Mama and Tallorin were entrapped in Pikit town in the first district of North Cotabato Tuesday via a sting laid by agents of PDEA-12, Army personnel and local police. — The STAR/John Unson

August 23, 2019

 North Cotabato Gov. Nancy Catamco says her 90-day suspension from office is only a temporary setback for the provincial government's development programs.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government on Thursday served Catamco a suspension order from the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court for a case from 2004, when she was still a private citizen.

Catamco was elected congresswoman in 2010 and was reelected twice before she won the May 13 gubernatorial race in North Cotabato.

Under Section 13 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which the Sandiganbayan cited in its resolution to suspend her, "any incumbent public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information...shall be suspended from office."

The court noted that suspension is mandatory when the public officer is charged for violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; Title 7, Book II of the Revised Penal Code, and "any offense involving fraud upon government, or any offense involving fraud of public funds or property."

Catamco began serving the 90-day suspension on Friday.

"This is only a temporary setback. I’m saddened with this development. I know how my supporters feel about this suspension but we have to abide with law. Our zeal to spread peace and development in the province will never be dampened. This is just a three-month suspension," Catamco says.

The charges filed against Catamco in 2004 stem from the award by the municipal government of Poro, Cebu of a P5-million fertilizer contract to Perzebros Company, allegedly without public bidding.

Catamco and her estranged husband Pompey Reyes owned Perzebros.

The contract was for the supply of 3,333 bottles of liquid fertilizer at P1,500 each. The Commission on Audit reportedly found out that it was overpriced by P1,092 per bottle.

Poro Mayor Edgar Rama is the principal accused in the case. — The STAR/John Unson

August 22, 2019

Of 636 residents of Kidapawan City in Cotabato afflicted with dengue fever in the past seven months, two were reported to have died in the hospital, data from the city government indicates.

One of the two fatalities was an eight-month-old infant.

The City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit reports Thursday that this year’s number of recorded dengue cases was 235-percent higher than what were listed from January to early August last year.

The City Health Office has intensified its anti-dengue cleanup and information drive in all of the barangays here, a statement from the mayor’s office said.

— The STAR/John Unson

August 7, 2019

Tacurong City police suspect contract killers in the killing of a senior commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and his aide in a daytime attack on Tuesday.

Sanggutin Musil, also known as “Commander Gerry,” and his aide Alex Amino Toto were stopped at a gasoline station along the Alunan Highway in Tacurong when two men on a motorcycle shot them at close range.

The duo, both residents of Barangay Pimbalayan in nearby Lambayong town in Sultan Kudarat province, died inside the car from bullet wounds.

Lt. Colonel Rey Egos of the Tacurong City police says the attack seems premeditated and may be linked to an old grudge, or involvement in clan war.

Probers are still trying to identify the culprits from security videos from the gasoline station and nearby establishments. — The STAR/John Unson

 

August 3, 2019

The military say soldiers found this week a 10-kilo improvised explosive device in an abandoned enclave of the New People’s Army in Cagayan de Oro City.

Lt. Col. Benjamin Pajarito Jr. of the Army’s 65th Infantry Battalion says the home-made bomb was planted like a booby trap along a route leading to an NPA lair in Barangay Pigsag-an in Cagayan de Oro City.

The IED was rigged with a contraption that could set off its detonator once tripped or accidentally touched even with slight pressure.

Army ordnance experts managed to promptly dissemble the IED for proper disposal. — The STAR/John Unson

July 30, 2019
The rehabilitation and expansion of water systems in four barangays in T’boli and Surallah towns in South Cotabato will bring around 3,000 residents round-the-clock access to potable water, the Peace and Equity Foundation says in a release.

Barangays Lamhaku and neighboring Talufo in T’boli previously had to contend with water rationing from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. due to neglect and deterioration of water systems there while Barangays Talahik and Blakang in Surallah had no water service at all.
 
PEF also says 21 solar panels were installed for the water facility in the community of Surallah. PEF, Tribal Leaders Development Foundation, Inc. and Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines put up the project for the communities in South Cotabato.

"We hope that through this project, there will be improvement in the condition of our tribal people, " TLDFI Board Member Ronar Guardaya says.

"The development of a new water source meant that TLDFI can expand their coverage to more households. In Barangay Talahik, for instance, from 50 households, they are now servicing 72 households, with more families expected to connect In Brgy. Lamhaku, 200 out of the 330 households are connected to the water system; in Barangay Talufo, 116 out of 150 target households are connected. Both barangays are located in the Municipality of T'boli,” PEF Program Officer Amaris Cabason says.
July 29, 2019

The provincial government of North Cotabato on Monday urges authorities to stop the narcotics trade in the province, which has seen the most arrests of alleged drug traffickers in the region.

No fewer than 10 of the shabu dealers arrested in the past two years in North Cotabato, covering 17 towns and more than 40 barangays in its capital, Kidapawan City, have links with the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and reportedly even shared earnings to the group, according to military and law enforcement officials.

The first-termer North Cotabato Gov. Nancy Catamco says Monday she is ready to extend technical and financial support to boost the anti-drug trafficking campaigns of the police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

"Whatever it takes, as long as not against government accounting restrictions, I will provide to the police and PDEA just for this drug problem to get fixed," Catamco says.?— The STAR/John Unson

July 25, 2019

A woman was killed while two others, one of them a minor, were injured in an explosion in Pikit town in this province before dawn Thursday, officials say.

Local officials identified the fatality as Misbah Masla of Barangay Kabasalan in Pikit town in the first district of North Cotabato.

Barangay Kabasalan is near the 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta, a known haven of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters that uses the flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria as its banner.

Masla’s husband, Alimoden, and their 10-year-old son, were injured in the blast.

In a statement Thursday, the military's Western Mindanao Command says Alimoden is a member of the BIFF.

The WestMinCom says he is a follower of the fanatical cleric Abu Toraife, whose real name is Abdulmalik Esmael, leader of one of three BIFF factions.

Now confined in a hospital in the town proper of Pikit along with his son, Alimoden says it could have been a rocket launched from military helicopter or an artillery round that hit their house. — The STAR/John Unson

July 20, 2019

Police say they are still investigating on who were behind the arson attack that damaged the newly-constructed police community action center in Lambayong town in Sultan Kudarat.

Lambayong’s police chief, Capt. Herma Luna, says the building was not totally razed by fire.  

They could not confirm yet either if a local Islamic State-inspired group was responsible.

Lambayong is located along central Mindanao’s 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta, a known haven of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. — The STAR/John Unson

July 16, 2019

Cotabato Gov. Nancy Catamco has reorganized the provincial security council that will work on peace initiatives in the province, which is also still called North Cotabato.

Catamco, a former member of Congress, convened the council Monday for a change in direction for the peace and order programs in the 17 towns in the province and in its capital, Kidapawan City.

Police and military officials took turns briefing Catamco on the security situation in the province, where there is presence of the New People’s Army and the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

The inter-agency PPOC is comprised of members from various line agencies, the police, the military and sectoral leaders in North Cotabato.

Central Mindanao’s top Army official, Major Gen. Diosdado Carreon of the 6th Infantry Division, attended Monday’s PPOC meeting, held at Catamco’s office in the provincial capitol in Barangay Amas, Kidapawan City. — The STAR/John Unson

July 15, 2019

Thirteen members of the Tantangan, South Cotabato municipal police have been relieved for being out of their precinct when officials conducted an inspection over the weekend.

Among those relieved was Capt. Romeo Albano, municipal police chief, who, along with 12 subordinates, was nowhere to be found when officials of the National Police Commission arrived for a surprise inspection.

Catholic station dxOM in Koronadal City reports Veronica Hatague, director of Napolcom-12, has recommended the immediately replacement of the police officers to teach them a lesson.

Hatague said their periodic unannounced inspection of police precincts in Region 12 is part of an effort to ensure the efficiency and emergency preparedness of police personnel.

— The STAR/John Unson

July 10, 2019

Authorities recorded 139 aftershocks by noontime Wednesday after a 5.6 magnitude earthquake jolted Kidapawan City and North Cotabato province on Tuesday night.

Engineer Hermes Daquipa, field officer of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology for Kidapawan City, says Wednesday that 12 more low intensity tremors were felt in the province since Tuesday night.

He says some of the more than a hundred aftershocks were not felt but were detected by their seismograph.

The earthquake Tuesday night was of tectonic origin, according to Daquipa.

Offices in the Kidapawan City hall and the North provincial government center about 10 kilometers away have been suspended after a strong tremor on Wednesday morning sent employees running for their lives.

Schools in Kidapawan City and nearby North Cotabato towns have also been closed since 7:00 a.m. Wednesday in anticipation of aftershocks.

Kidapawan City, which covers more than 40 barangays, is the capital of North Cotabato. — The STAR/John Unson

July 10, 2019

Classes have been suspended in Kidapawan City and nearby towns in anticipation of possible aftershocks following a 5.3 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday night.

City education officials announced the temporary suspension of classes via the popular Catholic station dxND in Kidapawan City, capital of North Cotabato province.

No one was reported hurt in the earthquake. — The STAR/John Unson

June 27, 2019

The two most elusive drug dealers in the province with links to the Maute terror group and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters again managed to elude government units that tried to arrest them Thursday.

Abdulsalam Maraguiar and Antolin Akmad managed to escape even before approaching agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-12 and personnel of the local police and the Army’s 34th Infantry Battalion could surround their hideouts in an interior barangay in Pigcawayan, North Cotabato.

The raiding team, led by PDEA-12’s director, Naravy Duquiatan, was to search for narcotics in the neighboring lairs of the duo based on a warrant issued by a court.

PDEA-12 agents found more than P200,000 worth of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) in their abandoned hideouts.

The raid was launched after neighbors informed the PDEA-12 and the Pigcawayan municipal police of the presence of Maraguiar and Akmad in the municipality, where they relocated last month from Maguindanao province.

The suspects have eluded more than 10 attempts to arrest them in Maguindanao. — The STAR/John Unson

June 26, 2019

More than 300 families were forced to relocate to safer areas by recurring gunfights since last week  between two rival groups in Palimbang town, South Cotabato officials.

Fridaliza Gazo of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office in South Cotabato was quoted in radio reports Wednesday as saying that relief services have been extended to evacuees now in Barangay Ned in Lake Sebu town.

Lake Sebu is a town in South Cotabato province.

Barangay Ned is close to Barangay Molon in Palimbang town in Sultan Kudarat, where the groups of Mike Binago and the allies Tat Tuan and Salik Adam figured in encounters that started over the weekend.

Both groups are armed with assault rifles, 40 millimeter grenade launchers and B-40 anti-tank rockets, a signature weapon of Moro secessionist guerillas.

Major Gen. Cirilito Sobejana of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division said says military units in Palimbang have been directed to intervene.

Sobejana said they will also do their best to prevent any spillover of the conflict to highland dwelling enclaves outside of Barangay Molon. — The STAR/John Unson in Sultan Kudarat

June 26, 2019

A mayor in Maguindanao appeals to the leadership of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to focus attention on the lack of fire trucks in many BARMM towns.

The constraint affects many of BARMM’s 116 towns in its five component provinces --- Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, both in mainland Mindanao, and in the scattered Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

“Good enough, fire stations in nearby towns that have fire trucks responded and the fire that hit our municipality was contained,” says Radjah Buayan Mayor Zamzamin Ampatuan.

The fire destroyed five buildings, among them a birthing clinic and an internet café.

Ampatuan says he is optimistic BARMM’s local government minister, lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, can help bring to the attention of the central office of the Bureau of Fire Protection the lack of fire trucks in so many towns in the Bangsamoro region.

“We know the BARMM leadership will not let us down,” Ampatuan adds. — The STAR/John Unson

 

June 24, 2019

Three villagers, one of them a minor, were seriously wounded in an ambush Sunday in Pikit town in North Cotabato, police say.

Omar Delna Acob, 26; Tala Maulana Matabalao; 30,and a 15-year-old were to deliver corn to a buyer in the town proper of Pikit when gunmen on motorcycles overtook the cargo vehicle they had hired, blocked their route and opened fire.

Acob, Matabalao and the minor, all residents of Barangay Ginatilan in Pikit, sustained bullet wounds in different parts of their bodies.

Capt. Mautin Pangandingan, chief of the Pikit municipal police, says Monday that probers are still trying to identify the culprits and the motive for the attack.

The victims are now confined in a hospital in Pikit, according to Pangandingan. — The STAR/John Unson in North Cotabato

June 23, 2019

An adolescent villager was killed and dozens of families have been displaced in a spate of gunfights involving two rival groups in the seaside Palimbang town Friday, the police disclose Sunday.

The fatality was identified as Richard Tulik, a high school student.

The Regional Police Office-12 say Sunday that the feuding groups, one led by Mike Binago and the other by allies Salik Adam and Tat Tuan, first clashed in Barangay Molon, sending hundreds of villagers running for their lives.

The two heavily-armed groups are locked in longtime squabbles for control of villages in the area whose residents they extort "protection money" from regularly.

Tulik was trapped in the crossfire as the running firefights spilled over to hinterland farming enclaves near the border of Palimbang and Lake Sebu town in South Cotabato. — The STAR/John Unson in Sultan Kudarat province

June 20, 2019

Senior Army officials say that its personnel are now being positioned in Upi, South Upi and Datu Blash Sinsuat towns following the pull out of the 7th Marine Battalion last Sunday.

The three towns are now under the jurisdiction of 6th Infantry Division covering most towns in the first district of Maguindanao, a component province of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Officials of the Philippine Marine Corps, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division and the 1st Marine Brigade based in nearby seaside Lebak town in Sultan Kudarat has led the June 16 sendoff rite for hundreds of Marines to be reassigned in Sulu.

Marine units in Maguindanao and in the coasts of Sultan Kudarat in Region 12 are under the tactical control of 6th ID.

Besides being bastion of the Abu Sayyaf, Sulu also has high prevalence of clan wars involving large Tausug clans maintaining armed groups to perpetuate political power, some of them conniving with the Abu Sayyaf. — The STAR/John Unson

June 20, 2019

Senior Army officials say that its personnel are now being positioned in Upi, South Upi and Datu Blash Sinsuat towns following the pull out of the 7th Marine Battalion last Sunday.

The three towns are now under the jurisdiction of 6th Infantry Division covering most towns in the first district of Maguindanao, a component province of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Officials of the Philippine Marine Corps, the Army’s 6th Infantry Division and the 1st Marine Brigade based in nearby seaside Lebak town in Sultan Kudarat has led the June 16 sendoff rite for hundreds of Marines to be reassigned in Sulu.

Marine units in Maguindanao and in the coasts of Sultan Kudarat in Region 12 are under the tactical control of 6th ID.

Besides being bastion of the Abu Sayyaf, Sulu also has high prevalence of clan wars involving large Tausug clans maintaining armed groups to perpetuate political power, some of them conniving with the Abu Sayyaf. — AFP

June 19, 2019

A livelihood skills training program facilitated by the Malungon, Sarangani municipal government and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency has given 30 recovering drug dependents a new lease on life.

The 30 men, who were dependent on methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu), were beneficiaries of a rehabilitation package extended free by the Balay Silangan Reformation Center in Malungon.

The office of Malungon Mayor Maria Theresa Constantino is the main benefactor of the center.

Naravy Duquiatan, director of PDEA-12 based in General Santos City, says Wednesday the 30 recovering drug addicts were awarded Monday with certificates for having completed a rehabilitation program meant to hasten their reintegration into the local communities.

Besides the livelihood skills program, they were also provided with basic health awareness, psycho-social and spiritual interventions by experts enlisted by the Malungon local government unit.

The simple graduation rite Monday was capped off with PDEA-12’s announcement during the event that all 31 barangays in Malungon are now “drug free,” meaning cleared from peddlers and buyers. — The STAR/John Unson in Sarangani province

June 13, 2019

President Duterte is now in General Santos City to lead the distribution of 12,548 Certficate of Land Ownership Award covering 24,000 hectares of land across Region 12.

June 13, 2019

The General Santos City-headquartered Police Regional Office-12 is on high alert because of a scheduled visit by President Rodrigo Duterte and a prayer rally by members of KAPA Community Ministry International Inc. in the same city.

The president is scheduled to lead the turnover of Certficates of Land Ownership Award to around 13,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries while KAPA will be holding the prayer rally at a sports complex in the city.

"The coincidence of both event projects risks to the safety of the president as well as the innocent civilians alike considering the volume of the people gathering in the city. Albeit KAPA members earlier pronounced that they will only proceed peacefully with the prayer rally, there is high probability that lawless groups might take advantage of this and advance with felonious deeds," PRO-12 says in a release to media.

KAPA has been in the news after President Duterte called for the ministry, which the Securities and Exchange Commission says operates an investment scheme similar to a Ponzi scam, shut down.

PRO-12 adds all police personnel are on standby in case of untoward incidents.

"Other public safety and law enforcement agencies along with PNP force multipliers were also prompted to stay coordinated with this PRO in safeguarding the status quo in the city," PRO-12 says.

June 13, 2019

The General Santos City-headquartered Police Regional Office-12 is on high alert because of a scheduled visit by President Rodrigo Duterte and a prayer rally by members of KAPA Community Ministry International Inc. in the same city.

The president is scheduled to lead the turnover of Certficates of Land Ownership Award to around 13,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries while KAPA will be holding the prayer rally at a sports complex in the city.

"The coincidence of both event projects risks to the safety of the president as well as the innocent civilians alike considering the volume of the people gathering in the city. Albeit KAPA members earlier pronounced that they will only proceed peacefully with the prayer rally, there is high probability that lawless groups might take advantage of this and advance with felonious deeds," PRO-12 says in a release to media.

KAPA has been in the news after President Duterte called for the ministry, which the Securities and Exchange Commission says operates an investment scheme similar to a Ponzi scam, shut down.

PRO-12 adds all police personnel are on standby in case of untoward incidents.

"Other public safety and law enforcement agencies along with PNP force multipliers were also prompted to stay coordinated with this PRO in safeguarding the status quo in the city," PRO-12 says.

June 12, 2019

A tornado flattened more than a dozen houses in Barangay Buayan in M'lang town in this province at dusk Tuesday, the municipal disaster risk reduction and management council says.

It says torrential rains preceded the strong whirlwind that blew down the houses, which were made of light materials.

The council also confirm that several houses were also hit and damaged by trees felled by the tornado.

It was the second to hit the same barangay in two years. — The STAR/John Unson in North Cotabato

June 8, 2019

An official of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency says authorities seized P6.8 million worth of shabu from two drug traffickers arrested Friday in Barangay Eastern Samar in Wao town in this province.

Darangi Ombo Angatong and Lendi Asiw Mangondacan fell in an entrapment laid jointly by combined personnel of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the Lanao del Sur provincial police and the Army’s 34th Infantry Battalion.

Juvenal Azurin, director of PDEA-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, says the operation that led to their arrest was based on tips relayed to him and Lanao del Sur’s police director, Col. Madzgani Mukaram, by vigilant residents in Wao.

Azurin says Angatong and Mangondacan shall be prosecuted for violation of the Philippine Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, also known as Republic Act 9165.

Personnel of the Lanao del Sur provincial police and PDEA-BARMM agents seized from them P6.8 million worth of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) they were to sell to non-uniformed agents disguised as drug dependents.

Azurin says the sting that resulted in the confiscation of a big volume of shabu from the two men was laid with the help of agents of the Criminal and Investigation and Detection Group-BARMM. — The STAR/John Unson

June 2, 2019

Forty-seven of the 57 barangays in Midsayap, North Cotabato—where drug dealers are said to be protected by either private armed groups or Islamic State-inspired militants—are now “drug free,” the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency says.

Naravy Duquiatan, director of PDEA-12 says Sunday the 47 barangays were officially declared cleared from drug traffickers and dependents during an inter-agency event in Midsayap last Thursday.

Midsayap is in the first district of North Cotabato, near the 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta, a haven of drug dealers being coddled there by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, which operates in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Duquiatan says Thursday’s activity, organized for the purpose of announcing the feat, was attended by Midsayap Mayor Romeo Araña, representatives from the Regional Police Office-12 and from the North Cotabato provincial government. — The STAR/John Unson

June 1, 2019

Chief minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao says he is thankful to the Australian government and other foreign institutions involved in education programs benefiting the five provinces of BARMM.

Australia, the United States of America and other foreign entities have continuing education projects in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao even before its replacement with a BARMM regional government last February. — The STAR/John Unson

May 29, 2019

Two large-scale drug dealers were arrested in separate operations by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Malungon, Sarangani on Tuesday, the agency says.

The first to fall in one of the two operations by agents of the PDEA-12 was Sammy Garcia, 52, who was cornered in his hideout in Barangay Kiblat in Malungon.

His accomplice, the 46-year-old Allan Sano, was nabbed in Barangay Datal Tampal in the same town an hour later.

The duo have allegedly been distributing methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) and dried marijuana leaves in secluded barangays in Malungon and nearby towns in Sarangani province.

PDEA-12 agents recovered shabu from the suspects.

They are now both detained, awaiting prosecution for violation of the Philippine Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. — The STAR/John Unson

May 26, 2019

The police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group is investigating a money market scam that duped hundreds of police personnel with promises of big profits.

Regional police officials tell reporters Sunday that four from their ranks—Cpl. Rhodora Bombita, Cpl. Daisy Javierto, Lt.Col. Henry Biñas and Col. Raul Supiter—will execute statements against the operators of the PlanProMatrix, or PPM.

The four witnesses belong to the Police Regional Office-12 in General Santos City.

'"Surely this case will serve as a lesson to those who easily gets fooled with 'too good to be true' earnings from pyramid money market schemes," a senior police official in the region, who is involved in the investigation, says on Sunday. — The STAR/John Unson

May 22, 2019

A van fell down a cliff along the road in Alamada in Cotabato province on Tuesday, leaving 17 hurt.

The victims were on their way home to Davao City from the Asik-Asik falls in Alamada when their van plunged into a ravine due to a "mechanical malfunction."  

Major Aldrin Gonzalez, spokesman of the Police Regional Office-12, says the driver of the van, Vic Kristoffer Billena, lost control of the vehicle when its brakes failed as he was going downhill

Gonzalez says responding personnel of the Alamada municipal police and local officials rushed the victims to different hospitals.

More than 30 people were hurt in the past 12 months in accidents involving vehicles carrying tourists from the scenic Asik Asik falls in Alamada, which is frequented by tourists. — The STAR/John Unson

May 19, 2019

Two governors—one waiting to take her oath of office and another due to move to Congress on June 20, want a peace program to quell religious extremism plaguing some areas in central Mindanao.

Public officials close to North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco, governor-elect, said Sunday she is likely to tap community elders to talk to misguided Islamic militants to determine what socio-economic and other humanitarian interventions are needed to hasten their reintegration into mainstream society.

Catamco defeated a veteran politician, Carmen Mayor Roger Taliño, in last week's elections. Taliño is the father of three-termer Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza

Taliño-Mendoza was elected vice governor last May 14, outvoting Catamco’s running mate, Socrates Piñol, a member of the provincial board.

"I am certain she will also focus on reconciliation with local officials who supported her rival’s candidacy. I know Congresswoman Catamco well. She is not a vindictive politician," Piñol said Sunday.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, who will represent the province's second district at the House of Representatives, has recommended a suspension of military offensives against local Islamic State-inspired blocs.

Mangudadatu says leaders of these extremist groups might decide to return to the fold of law if assured of relief and livelihood packages that can help restore normalcy of their lives.

"How many mothers have become widows in recent months? Many children of militants have become orphans and thousands of innocent families always get displaced as a result of this conflict. It is time for paradigm shift. We can try a paradigm based on diplomacy and reconciliation this time," Mangudadatu says. — The STAR/John Unson

May 17, 2019

Two women will be at the helm of the provinces of North Cotabato and Maguindanao.

North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco has been proclaimed the winner in the May 13 gubernatorial race, where she defeated Mayor Roger Taliño of Carmen town.

Taliño is father of the now three-termer North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, who was elected vice governor.

Catamco's running mate, Socrates Piñol, a member of the provincial board, was not as lucky.

"It will not dampen my zeal to continue working for our people. I shall be serving them now in a private capacity. They will still see me around," said Piñol, who is the Agriculture secretary's brother.

The Commission on Elections has also proclaimed Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu as governor-elect of Maguindanao.

She defeated a relative, Mayor Freddie Mangudadatu of Mangudadatu town, by an overwhelming margin. Her running mate, Vice Gov. Lester Sinsuat, was re-elected to a third and last term.

Sangki-Mangudadatu is wife of re-elected Sultan Kudarat Gov. Suharto Mangudadatu, Mayor Mangudadatu's cousin.

Freddie is the younger brother of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, who has been elected congressman. — The STAR/John Unson

May 8, 2019

The police office of Soccsksargen says Wednesday 15 more alleged members of the New People's Army have surrendered to authorities.

Brig. Gen. Eliseo Rasco, director of Police Regional Office-12, says the 15 NPAs yielded through the efforts of local officials in Lebak town in Sultan Kudarat.

Rasco says the rebels belong to the NPA's Guerilla Front 73, which operates in the hinterlands of Sultan Kudarat's neighboring Lebak, Kalamansig, Palimbang and Senator Ninoy Aquino towns.

The 15 NPAs, all members of an indigenous highland community, surrendered to Mayor Dionesio Besana, representatives from PRO-12 and officials of the 1st Marine Brigade led by Marine Brig. Gen. Eugenio Hernandez during a simple ceremony in Lebak town on Tuesday.

More than 50 NPAs from Lebak and Kalamansig surrendered in batches in the past 24 months. — The STAR/John Unson

Follow this thread for updates on Central Mindanao, which covers South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos, and is now also called Soccsksargen.

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