August 16, 2018 at 08:00 pm
Cotabato City—Officials of Pikit, North Cotabato have formed a task force that would look into the string of killings in the town which has victimized at least seven persons the past several days.
Called Task Force Pikit, the group headed by Mayor Sumulong Sultan and with tribal leaders, police and military officials as members, aims to put a stop to the recent cases of shooting incidents that took place in several remote villages of the locality.
“Expect that there would be a high presence of military, police, and militiamen in the villages where the recent shootings took place,” Chief Insp. Ronnie Castañares, Pikit police chief, said in a radio interview.
The latest shooting incident took place Wednesday in Barangay Manualanan where two victims, identified as Raphael Arellano and Rommel Santander, both of Barangay Silik, were waylaid.
“The victims were on board a multicab vehicle when ambushed by armed men with .45 caliber pistols,” Castañares said.
On Tuesday, motorcycle-riding gunmen also shot dead Nasrudin Lantawan, a son of a village councilor from Barangay Balong in the Manualanan area.
On Monday, gunmen ambushed and killed two militiamen and a pregnant woman in Barangay Ginatilan of the same town. Slain were Richard Wacan, 26, and Ronald Lachica, 35, both members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit and residents of Barangay Bualan, and Hasna Mohammad Buka, 39, an expectant housewife.
Two students, identified as Keise Mohammad Buka, 14, and Dante Boboy Jr,. 16, were injured in the same ambush incident that took place around 2 p.m. in front of the Datu Dalandag National High School in Barangay Ginatilan.
Last Aug. 4, bonnet-wearing armed men also gunned down Bonnie Gayak, former treasurer of Barangay Buliok, along the highway in Barangay Fort, Pikit.
Castañares said the rash of killings has caused “panic and fear” among town residents, prompting the Municipal Peace and Order Council to convene Monday to tackle the concern.
He said additional security forces would be placed in the villages of Pagangan, Manualanan, Ladtingan, Ginatilan, Lagunde, Balong and Bualan, to deter similar incidents in the future.
“We also asked for the deployment of personnel from the Army’s 7th Infantry battalion to these areas,” he added.
Moreso, the police official said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front was also urged to help in ensuring peace in communities near their acknowledged areas along the Liguasan marshland in Pikit.
Castañares said the killings are rooted in land conflict concerning vast hectares of an estate in the boundaries of Pikit and Aleosan towns. “There are parcels of lands in that area contested by these families since 2007, particularly in Sitio Valencia, Pagangan, Pikit, and Sitio Tubac in Aleosan,” he said.