By NITZ ARANCON
and JOEY NACALABAN, Correspondents .
THE Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) is set on pressing charges today against a barangay chairman and her husband, a former police officer and about a dozen others in connection with an armed encounter in Kinawe, Libona town in Bukidnon at dawn Saturday.
Facing charges of direct assault, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, illegal possession of explosive, and possibly, violation of the election gun ban are Kinawe barangay chairperson Cherry Barros and her husband Tarcisio who is a former barangay chairman, and retired SPO2 Susimo Bati-on, 56, of Oroquieta, Misamis Occidental.
According to Supt. Melgar Devaras, CIDG director for northern Mindanao, also facing charges are Jon Eric Medina, 57, Joseph Padayhag, 31, Monry Villanueva, 32, Junie Quilicot, 36, all from Sapang Dalaga, Misamis Occidental;
Melito Opeña, 36, of Kalayaan, Ozamiz City; Necasio Ponce, 32, Peter Gor, 18; Solomon Flores, 42; and Michael Barros, 24, all of Kinawe.
The encounter took place while the martial law enforcement group Task Force Oro was about to serve search warrants covering half a hectare Barros property at sa Zone 3, Barangay Kinawe, at around 2 am Saturday.
The CIDG said at least three soldiers were wounded as a result of the encounter: Cpl. Daniel Manatad, Cpl. Rafael Salido, and Cpl. Fernando Dumpa Jr..
Salido sustained a head wound while Dumpa suffered a foot wound; they are being treated in a military hospital here. Manatad was shot to the chest and was rushed to a private hospital.
SPO4 Noel Oclarit said six search warrants were issued by a regional court in Gingoog City against the Barroses.
Oclarit said an armed group then started spraying law enforcers with automatic gunfire and even exploded a grenade resulting in a sporadic exchange of firepower that lasted for about 30 minutes.
“We were already there purposely to serve the six warrants of arrest. When we started knocking at the gatem they suddenly launched the attack on us,” recalled Devaras.
Devaras said authorities were forced to return fire.
Barangay chairperson Barros’s husband Tarcisio managed to evade arrest along with a still unidentified man, Oclarit said.
He said Tarcisio and his companion are believed to be armed.
The task force seized a cache of high-powered firearms and ammunition, grenades, and the bomb-making ingredient ammonium nitrate when they searched the Barros property.
Barangay chairperson Barros, believed to be related to the Parojinogs of Ozamiz City, said the firearms were borrowed by her husband so they could defend themselves from their enemies in Kinawe as a result of a land dispute.
But in another interview, Barros said she did not know anything about the confiscated high-powered guns but her family has requested Camp Crame to allow them to keep guns for self-defense.
One of Barros’s sons was reportedly killed in an ambush carried out by still unknown gunmen in January. Tarcisio was driving the car.
“Sugod adto, aduna na kami kahadlok sa mga armadong mga tawo nga gusto mupatay sa amo pero naunsa naman hinoon ni kami pa namatyan kami pa gipangdakop,” Barros said.
She said the men who were handcuffed by the police were her family’s guests. One of the “guests,” she said, was a potential business partner from Manila.
The arrested suspects were brought to the CIDG headquarters in Camp Evangelista for detention while pursuit operations were launched against Tarcisio and his companion.