Abra cops clash with ‘private armed group’

March 29, 2022 Alfred P. Dalizon 1020 views

A GUNBATTLE erupted between policemen manning a checkpoint in Pilar, Abra and suspected members of a partisan armed group said to be under the employ of the local mayor and vice-mayor leaving one of the suspects dead around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, a Cordillera Police Regional Office report said.

Cordillera police director, Brigadier General Ronald O. Lee said that as of press time, his men have cordoned the compound of Pilar Mayor Mark Roland Somera and his sister, Vice-Mayor Jaja Josefina Disono where the armed suspects fled shortly after the encounter.

In a report to Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, General Dionardo B. Carlos, the official said the gunfight took place in Barangay Poblacion shortly after members of the Pilar Municipal Police Station and the Cordillera Regional Mobile Force Battalion who were conducting an on-the-spot checkpoint in the area were ignored by the occupants of a white Toyota Hi-Ace.

Brig. Gen. Lee said the driver of the van sped off and in the process hit two members of the RMFB who were acting as rear security.

He said that officers on board a mobile car pursued the fleeing vehicle but were fired upon by its occupants prompting them to retaliate.

The suspects later entered the compound of the vice-mayor where they holed up.

Brig. Gen. Lee said the checkpoint was established to check reports that armed civilians in full violation of the nationwide gun ban are always accompanying the two local politicians.

“We have received reports that the armed suspects were either retired law enforcement officers or civilians from Mindanao who belonged to a group called Blackwater,” he said.

The official said he has ordered the compound cordoned off by the local police while efforts are underway to convince the other suspects to peacefully surrender.