PNP: Former Maguindanao town mayor behind 2016 Davao bombing killed in “gun-grabbing” incident

PNP says ex-Talitay mayor also on national drug watchlist, BIFF arms supplier

(Eagle News) — A former mayor of a Maguindanao town behind the 2016 Davao bombing was killed after he tried to grab the firearm of a policeman who was taking him to Camp Crame in Quezon City after his arrest, and shot him, the Philippine National Police said.

According to the PNP, Montasser Sabal, alias Sabal, former chief executive of the municipality of Talitay, was declared dead at the San Juan Medical Center after the police officers’ colleagues inside the police vehicle were forced to retaliate to defend themselves at 5:20 a.m. on Thursday.

In his report, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Director Police Maj. Gen. Albert Ignatius Ferro said the police officers used “reasonable force” that resulted in the wounding of the suspect, who, according to PNP Chief Guillermo Eleazar, is a former member of the elite PNP Special Action Force from 1998 to 2008 with specialized trainings in Intelligence, Urban Counter Revolutionary Warfare Course, Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Sniper Shooting.

The PNP said Sabal was also listed under the National Watchlist on Illegal Drugs (NWID), and, according to intelligence reports,  serves as a supplier of armaments and explosives to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

Sabal had been arrested the day before by  virtue of a warrant of arrest stemming from the drug charges filed against him, at the Batangas Port in Batangas City, after CIDG operatives learned of his arrival from Mindanao.

Also arrested were Norayda Nandang, 43, and Aika de Asis, house helpers and Muhaliden Mukaram, 36, driver.

Seized from Sabal’s vehicle were the following, according to the PNP:

  • One  M16 A4 Colt AR 15 with serial no. ML63401;
  • One magazine for M16 A4;
  • Six live ammunition for M16 A4;
  • One Glock 23 9 mm;
  • Four magazines for Glock 23 9 mm;
  • 44 live ammp for Glock 23 9 mm;
  • One  fragmentation grenade;
  • Two vehicle plates with plate no. KAG 4091;
  • P48,840.00 in different denominations;
  • Five cellphones;
  • Two folded knives;
  • Assorted documents;
  • Two (plastic sachets containing suspected metamphetamine hydrochloride otherwise known as “shabu”  weighing 23.9844 grams & 4.4388 grams with value amounting to PHP 200,000;
  • Assorted IDs

Also confiscated from another vehicle parked at the Batangas Port, a white Nissan Navarra believed owned by Sabal, were the following:

  •  One Colt AR 15 with serial no. ML 63501;
  • One magazine for Colt AR 15;
  • One M1 Garand rifle with built-in magazine;
  • 51 live ammunition for 7.62;
  • 17  live ammunition for M16;
  • Accessories for mortar;
  • Two cellular phones;
  • One vehicle key;
  • One Glock 19 9MM with serial no. ADKE 497;
  • Three magazines for Glock 19 9 mm;
  • One rifle grenade;
  • 51 live ammunition for Glock 19 9 mm; and
  • Two transparent plastic sachets containing suspected shabu weighing more or less 201.917 grams and 156.365 grams with DDB value amounting to more or less P2,500,000.00.
  • P582,000 in different denominations

Eleazar hailed the CIDG, saying the neutralization of Sabal was a big blow to the chain of supply of firearms and explosive materials to the BIFF, which is responsible for the various attacks and bombings in Maguindanao and nearby areas.

Nevertheless, he said the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) would conduct a motu-proprio investigation as part of protocol, since the suspect died in police custody.

Sabal was municipal mayor of Talitay from 2010 to 2013, and vice mayor of the same town from 2013 to 2016.