President Rodrigo R. Duterte visited this camp on Wednesday afternoon for the wake of the five Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) agents recently killed in an ambush in Kapai, Lanao del Sur.
The President, who arrived here around 5:30 p.m., condoled with and handed over the Order of Lapu-Lapu with the rank of Kalasag each to the dependents of the five PDEA agents.
The President also performed a salute to each of the slain agents’ coffins as a gesture of respect for their extreme sacrifice in pursuit of the government’s continuing war against illegal drugs.
Those accorded with posthumous recognition were PDEA team leader Vencio Ardepolla, and members Laurice Joy Amar, Kenneth Capuno, Diobel Pacinio, and Khristine Mae Torlao, all of the PDEA group based in Marawi City.
Accompanying the President in his visit here were Special Assistant to President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino and other top PDEA officials.
Duterte stayed for about an hour before leaving for his scheduled trip on Wednesday night to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Leaders’ Gathering in Bali, Indonesia.
This developed as Aquino revealed to journalists here the identities of eight of 10 suspects behind the Oct. 5 ambush-slay of his agents in Lanao del Sur.
The suspects include William Comayog Gandawali, who is the incumbent barangay chairman of Inudaran, Tagoloan II; Oskar Capal Gandawali, the village chair’s son; Aiman Guro Gandawali, Lala Lolo Amboloto, Jamal Lolo Amboloto, Palawan Salem Macalabo, Mizangkad Panonde Gandawali, and Jamel Borar alias Memekan.
“All suspects are related by affinity,” Aquino said, adding that the two other “John Does” in the list are also relatives of the suspects.
Police have filed multiple murder and double frustrated murder against the suspects.
Aquino said initial police investigation revealed that the ambush-slay incident stemmed from the killing of drug suspect Comayog Macapagal of Tagoloan II, Lanao del Sur by police in a shootout last Aug. 8 in Marawi City following a buy-bust operation.
“The suspect was killed by the Police Drug Enforcement Unit (PDEU) operatives but their relatives thought they were PDEA agents,” he said.
Since then, Aquino said Macapagal’s relatives have vowed to retaliate against law enforcement operatives, particularly those from the PDEU in Marawi, to avenge his death.
A manhunt against the suspects is ongoing. (PNA/Noel Punzalan)