Tensions high after ambush on Lanao del Sur town mayor’s uncle


John Unson (Philstar.com) – February 11, 2021 – 7:55pm
LANAO DEL SUR, Philippines — The police and military deployed personnel on Thursday to secure Malabang town after Wednesday’s fatal ambush of an uncle of its mayor by suspected partisans. 

Rauf Malawani, a maternal uncle of the first-termer Mayor Tomas Macapodi of Malabang, died on the spot from bullet wounds sustained in the attack, which has raised tensions in the entire municipality.

The victim, an influential community leader, campaigned extensively for Macapodi when he first aspired for Malabang’s mayoral post in the 2019 elections.

Relatives of Malawani are certain he was killed to drag Macapodi into a “rido,” or clan war and derail his bid for a second term in 2022.

“I have called on my relatives and political supporters to stand down and let the police identify and prosecute the culprits. We must let the law prevail and take its course. The culprits must be prosecuted properly,” Macapodi said in an online message to reporters Thursday.

Major Gen. Juvymax Uy, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said Thursday that the 1st Marine Brigade, which operates in Malabang, has deployed personnel to strategic areas in the municipality as a precaution. 

Malabang was locked in deadly clan wars and underdevelopment before Macapodi was elected to office in 2019.

Among his pioneering projects as mayor was the setting up of security cameras in strategic spots in the town center of Malabang to deter gun attacks and clashes among feuding families.

Malawani was on his way home from Marawi City when his attackers, armed with pistols and assault rifles and on board three pickup trucks, blocked his route through the Bacayawan area in Malabang and opened fire, killing him on the spot.

Witnesses have identified his attackers but declined to talk to reporters for fear of reprisals.

The suspects managed to escape even before responding personnel of the Malabang municipal police station could reach the scene.

Police Brig. Gen. Samuel Rodriguez of the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region said Thursday he has directed the Malabang municipal police and the Lanao del Sur provincial police to cooperate in identifying the killer of Malawani for prosecution.

He said he urged relatives of Malawani to refrain from retaliating and allow the police to put closure to the incident instead.

Lanao del Sur province accounts for most cases of clan wars — parked either by affronts to family pride and honor, by land disputes, or by political squabbles — in all the Bangsamoro region. 



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