THREE suspected drug traders were killed in an encounter on Thursday morning with government troops in Pandag, Maguindanao, which is a known lair of Muslim rebels and lawless elements.
Target in the police-led operation, backed by the Army, was a group of 15 people led by Abdulatip Pendaliday alias Grasscutter, a former member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who surrendered in July 2016.
Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, commander of the Army’s 33rd Infantry Battalion, said 34 grams of shabu worth P170,000 and high-caliber firearms, including three M-16 rifles, three M203 grenade launchers and M79 grenade launcher were confiscated after the 5:30 a.m. gunbattle in Sitio Langat, Barangay Kabuling.
Cabunoc said elements of 33rd IB and Datu Paglas police went to serve search warrants against Pendaliday and his men but were met by a volley of gunfire forcing them to shoot back.
The firefight lasted about an hour, Cabunoc added.
The armed men fled toward the Liguasan marshland, including Pendaliday, while bodies of three armed men were later found in the encounter site.
The three were identified as Samir Pendaliday, Nasrudin Saligan and Rakim Pendaliday, all of Lipao village in Datu Paglas.
Cabunoc said Pendaliday and his group continued their illegal drug trade activities in the towns of Pandag, Datu Paglas and nearby areas after his surrender.