Identities of gunmen in Sema’s slay try known PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 12 January 2012 17:41

One of the two slain gunmen who ambushed Cotabato City Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema was an employee of the Office of the Southern Cultural Communities in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, ARMM sources revealed yesterday.

The ARMM’s officer-in-charge, Mujiv Hataman, said he would personally ask the central office of the National Bureau of Investigation and the regional police to conduct a probe on how the suspect, Zermin Abdullah, ended trying to kill Sema with a heavily customized assault M-16 rifle fitted with a noise suppressor.

Abdullah and his cohorts all wore Kevlar bulletproof vests.

In an emailed statement, the ARMM’s information bureau, which is directly under Hataman’s office, said the 48-year old Abdullah was also well known in his hometown, Talitay, an impoverished municipality in the second district of Maguindanao.

The other slain ambusher was identified by police investigators as Saidamin Sula, driver of one of the getaway motorcycles the gunmen were to use in their supposed escape after having pulled off the ambush of Sema.

Abdullah was a development management officer, a permanent career position in the OSCC-ARMM.

“Apparently, by the looks of it, the OSCC-ARMM has nothing to do with his involvement in the near fatal ambush of Vice Mayor Sema,” Hataman said in a text message.

Hataman said he has tasked the Intelligence and Security Services Division of the Office of the Regional Governor, and his executive secretary, human rights lawyer Anwar Malang, to coordinate with the ARMM’s police director, Chief Supt, Bienvenido Latag, in gathering more information needed in identifying the real brains in the ambush of Sema.

Cotabato City is under the Region 12 police office, but the city is inside Maguindanao, a component province of ARMM.

The emailed statement from Hataman’s office quoted the director of OSCC-ARMM, Fatima Kanakan, as saying that as a government official, Abdullah was involved in field works, such as amicable resolutions of clan wars, called “rido” in the local vernacular, and in the implementation of a joint health insurance program of the regional government and Philhealth for indigenous people in far-flung areas in Maguindanao.  

Hataman said the OSCC-ARMM has to allow investigators complete access to all records pertaining to the field assignments of Abdullah and the people he has dealt with while he performed his official duties.

Sema, who was hit by a bullet in his right cheek, is chairman of the most dominant of four factions in the Moro National Liberation Front.

Sema was on his way home almost noontime Tuesday from a session of the city council, which he chairs, when Abdullah and his accomplices opened fire at his vehicle with assault rifles.

The security men escorting Sema managed to jump out of the car and engaged the ambushers in the brief firefight, killing Abdulla and Sula.

Sema was airlifted Tuesday afternoon by an Air Force helicopter to Davao City through the efforts of Major Gen, Rey Ardo, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.

Ardo said all of their intelligence units are now helping gather information on the background of Abdullah from sources in Talitay town and neighboring areas in Maguindanao. —  Felix Ostrea