Government forces neutralized five lawless elements and seized several firearms and drug paraphernalia of the group in an armed engagement in Pikit, North Cotabato on July 5 at 9pm.
While the troops of 7th Infantry Battalion and Pikit Municipal Police Station were on their routine checkpoint operations, a speeding SUV passed through a checkpoint set up along the national highway in Pikit, North Cotabato.
It alerted the adjacent detachment/checkpoint at Brgy Inug-ug of same municipality. Without any provocation, the troops manning the checkpoint were fired upon by the armed men aboard the said SUV.
Government troops returned fire, neutralizing five armed men. Two were identified as Hassem Matalam, son of former Pagalungan Mayor Nurodin Matalam, and Buton Bacocol, from Matina Pangi, Davao City. Their bodies were already claimed by the Matalam Family.
Government forces also seized an M16, two M653, an M1911, a hand grenade, a rifle grenade, three sachets of suspected shabu, and shabu paraphernalia.
Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Western Mindanao Command, said: “I commend our military and police forces who stood guard and remained vigilant. Your steadfastness will bear more accomplishments in our internal security campaign to defeat lawlessness in Mindanao.”
“Carrying this accomplishment, WestMinCom commits to sustain its campaign against lawless elements and loose firearms in Mindanao. The same efforts will be made to facilitate Rido settlements in our bid to bring security and development in communities,” he added.