An improvised explosive device (IED) was among the items seized from Talitay, Maguindanao Vice Mayor Abdulwahab Sabal and his bodyguards at Awang Airport in Maguindanao, police said Saturday. A report by the Maguindanao provincial police office said Sabal and his two bodyguards identified as Maulana and Nasser were arrested at the Awang Airport at around 1 p.m. last Thursday. Sabal's wife, Mamalo, was also with him during the arrest. The police report said an IED made from a 60mm mortar round was seized from the possession of Sabal's group. Also seized from them were two pieces of .45 pistols, an M16 rifle, and 12 plastic sachets of shabu.
Sabal, who has been brought to the Department of Justice in Manila for inquest proceedings and detention at Camp Crame in Quezon City, is included in President Rodrigo Duterte's "narco-list." The vice mayor and his men are facing charges for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Police have tightened security measures in airports nationwide following the deadly bomb attack in Davao City last September 2, which left 14 people dead and at least 70 others injured. Philippine National Police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Dionardo Carlos clarified that the arrest of the vice mayor had no connection with the police's efforts to arrest people responsible for the Davao City blast. "Walang connection sa bomba (Davao City blast), yun ang sabi ni Chief," Carlos said.
Earlier in the day, PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa announced the arrest of Sabal but declined to confirm reports that the local official was involved in the Davao City blast. He only cited Sabal's inclusion in the narco-list. "Napangalanan siya ni presidente, kasama siya sa listahan ng mga narco-politicians... Pero ito ngayon, sa particular na bomb blast ng Davao, hindi pa natin na-establish," the PNP chief announced during his visit at the MIMAROPA regional headquarters in Mindoro. Dela Rosa had said that drug lords may have a hand in the Davao City blast, which prompted Duterte to declare a state of national emergency.
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