Davao cops net suspect in killing of two top Comelec execs

August 31, 2012 12:57 am 

By Anthony S. Allada

DAVAO CITY, Aug. 30 — The intensified anti-drug operations of the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) on Wednesday evening netted a suspect long wanted in the murder of two top legal officers of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) years ago in Metro Manila.

Sr. Insp. Ronald Lao, chief of the Sta. Ana police station, said former PO1 Basser Bato Ampatuan, 39, a resident of General Luna Street, Cotabato City, was arrested during a buy-bust operation around 9:54 p.m. Wednesday at the Tart’s Diner at the corner of Juan Luna and Juan dela Cruz Streets, this city.

Lao said charges of violation of Republic Act 9165, otherwise known as Comprehensive Anti-Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, were already filed before the City Prosecutor’s Office against the suspect.

He said the arrest of Ampatuan led to the discovery of his high-profile cases that happened in 2007 and 2008.

Lao said their initial investigation showed that the suspect was only a transient in the city and could just be staying with friends and relatives.

He said Ampatuan joined the PNP sometime in 1999 and was in Absent Without Official Leave (AWOL) on 2008, the time when he was already the subject of police manhunt.

He said they are now awaiting the suspect’s arrest warrant from Manila on his two murder cases.

In November 2007, Atty. Alioden Dalaig, then Comelec law department head, was shot dead in an ambush in Ermita, Manila. Dalaig’s killing was immediately blamed to the hot and controversial election cases he handled after investigators ruled out robbery since his money and other personal belongings were still intact.

The same fate also happened to his predecessor, Wynne Asdala, who was attacked by motorcycle-riding gunmen in Intramuros, Manila on March 29, 2008. Asdala died a few hours later at the Manila Doctors Hospital.

On April 15, 2008, Ampatuan was arrested by elements of the Shariff Kabunsuan provincial police office and was immediately flown to Manila to face the twin murder cases.

This came after he was reportedly positively identified by witnesses to be the person caught in the Close-Circuit Television (CCTV) camera escaping following Dalaig’s killing.

However, on June 8, 2008, while in detention at Camp Bagong Diwa, Ampatuan walked out of an air-conditioned room where he was confined under restricted custody.

Ampatuan was first arrested in connection with Dalaig's murder, but a prosecutor ordered his release. Ampatuan however remained under restricted custody after a separate administrative case was filed against him by the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The arrest of Ampatuan was confirmed by Davao City Police Office director, Sr. Supt. Ronald dela Rosa, Thursday noon at the detention center of the Sta. Ana police station.

“That’s what I am telling you. That our campaign against illegal drugs could result to the solution of different crimes,” Dela Rosa said. (PNA)

LAM/ASA/LDP/UTB

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