Authorities brace for payback after arrest of North Cotabato drug lord

By John Unson

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The town of Pikit in North Cotabato as seen in this Google Earth satellite image.
NORTH COTABATO, Philippines — Authorities are bracing for retaliation by guerrilla groups that shared from the earnings of a drug lord in Pikit town whom government operatives nabbed last Friday.
 
Personnel of the police, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Region 12 and the Army arrested the mythically elusive Mangingin Pandian in Barangay Dalingaoen in Pikit after a brief gunfight with his group on Friday morning.
 
The police and the PDEA-12 learned of Pandian’s presence in Barangay Dalingaoen from vigilant villagers and local officials, according to Superintendent Romeo Galgo, Jr. of the Police Regional Office-12.
 
The PDEA-12 reportedly tracked him down for weeks with the help of local officials and eventually cornered him on Friday in one his hideouts in Barangay Dalingaoen.
 
The joint police-PDEA-12 operation also resulted in the arrest of Olambay Guiamadel, Kenol Mama, Sarik Ison Andie, Johnny Kusain Mohammad, Sandy Norhan Mohammad, Ali Talipasan Pandian, Ibrahim Ibong Usman, Norhamen Bantuan, Norhan Pedtukasan Omar, Bitoy Katog Kaludin and Mohammad Usman
 
Barangay folk have confirmed that Pandian and his 11 accomplices are related by blood to certain commanders of heavily-armed Moro factions whose commanders they provided with money in exchange for safe havens in secluded areas in North Cotabato.
 
Pandian and his followers had been charged with violation of the Philippine Dangerous Drugs Act and are now temporarily detained at a police facility in Kabacan town in North Cotabato.
 
They were tagged as large-scale peddlers of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) who operated a network with distributors in North Cotabato’s Pikit, Aleosan and Kabacan towns and in nearby municipalities in Maguindanao province.
 
Galgo said the North Cotabato provincial police office is guarding against possible retaliations by relatives and armed groups identified with Pandian.
 
Brig. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said intelligence operatives of the 602nd Brigade, which operates in parts of North Cotabato, and its component units are also helping monitor the groups sympathetic to Pandian. 

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