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22-Hour Battle Fought in Pantar

By FRANK E. DOSDOS JR

PANTAR, Lanao del Norte — A fierce gun battle lasting about 22 hours occurred in Poblacion, Pantar, Lanao del Norte starting 1:55 o’clock in the afternoon of Wednesday August 26 and ending towards noon, the following day.

Police Inspector Ansari M. Pagador told newsmen that the exchange of fire was punctuated only by short moments of silence, adding it was probably too terrifying to the civilians in the neighborhood.

His station manned only by a few policemen as they were not the objective of the attackers.

After the battle that stopped when a contingent of PNP forces from the Provincial Command and elements of the 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion arrived at the scene to pacify.

Pagador said that the fighting was between defenders of Mayor Mohammad Exchan Limbona who was holed up in the municipal hall and their attackers from three directions believed to be followers of Vice Mayor Mangondaya Tago.

The attackers retreated from their positions toward unknown directions when the military and police contingents arrived, the police said.

Recovered from their positions were empty shells of .50 caliber Barret guns, M16s, M14s, M79 grenades and some small arms that were later shown to newsmen.

It was learned that the battle ensued when defenders of the Mayor stopped what was said to be a corpse of a dead person being brought by followers of the Vice Mayor toward Punod, his village.

The identities of the attackers are yet being investigated by the Police.

It was also reported that three persons in the neighborhood were wounded in the attack and one of them died on the way to the hospital.

It was believed that there were also casualties in the side of the attackers but this was not confirmed by the police.

Police theorized that the firefight is just an eruption of a continuing struggle for the Mayor’s Office.

A brewing conflict between the Mayor and the Vice Mayor reportedly began when the former was served a letter from the DILG Regional Director of enforcement of an Ombudsman decision finding him guilty of an administrative case filed against him when he was still a Barangay Chairman and the Vice Mayor was installed as Acting Mayor.

It is a matter of public knowledge in Pantar that the Mayor did not yield his position to the Vice Mayor even as the Vice Mayor was already receiving and disbursing the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of the municipality.

The Mayor is reportedly asserting that he is the duly elected Mayor of the municipality who must defend his post.

PNP Station Commander Pagador hopes that higher authorities will break the impasse and rule on who must be recognized as the lawful Mayor of the municipality.

The New Ranao Star


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