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2 slain vehicle thieves tagged as ‘BIFF hired guns’

December 14, 2021 Alfred P. Dalizon 294 views

TWO armed motorcycle and motor vehicle thieves slain in a clash with agents of the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) in Koronadal City, Sultan Kudarat last Friday have been identified as members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters-turned guns-for-hire operating in the province and nearby areas, the Journal Group learned yesterday.

PNP-HPG director, Brigadier General Rommel Francisco D. Marbil identified the slain suspects as Tonny Pilangkat Pandita alias ‘Tony Bolagen’ and Meranda Paglangan Sabpeten.

The official said Pandita has been identified as the leader of an organized crime group involved in motor vehicle and motorcycle theft and gun-for-hire activities in Soccsksargen and other nearby provinces in Central Mindanao.

Marbil reported to PNP chief, General Dionardo B. Carlos that the operation was launched by members of the HPG Special Operations Division-Task Force Limbas headed by Lieutenant Colonel Joel Manuel A. Ana and the Regional Highway Patrol Unit 12 in coordination with the local police.

“We have reports that the suspects were involved in several cases of motorcycles and other vehicles being forcibly taken from their owners or drivers at gunpoint in Sultan Kudarat particularly in Koronadal City prior to last Friday’s clash,” said Marbil.

He added that Pandita was identified as a BIFF member wanted a number of atrocities in the province which led to the killing or wounding of security troops and civilians.

A record check showed the suspect is the subject of a warrant of arrest for carnapping with no bail recommended by Judge Jordan Reyes of the Koronadal City Regional Trial Court Branch 42 on August 1, 2019 and a warrant for two counts of attempted murder issued by Judge Milanio Guerrero of the Tacurong City RTC Branch 20 on May 4, 2017.

Marbil said an informant helped the SOD-Task Force Limbas track down the suspects led by Pandita who was also identified as the no. 2 most wanted person in Central Mindanao.

Sabpeten was described as a notorious ‘hitman’ affiliated with a BIFF faction led by one ‘Commander Pagao.’

The two suspects shot it out with HPG operatives in Purok Bagong Tuklas in Barangay Caloocan, Koronadal City 7:20 p.m. Friday and were killed when the HPG officers retaliated, Marbil said.

Pandita yielded a caliber .357 revolver with two spent casings and a live shell in its cylinder while Sabpeten was found in possession of a cal. .22 Magnum revolver with five bullets.

Also recovered from the two were a Honda CRF 150L motorcycle they allegedly stole at gunpoint from its owner Edison Lennon Domingo and a black Honda CRM without registration papers.