Two leaders of a group allied with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were arrested following a six-hour running gunbattle in Pikit, North Cotabato, the military said.
Arrested were Montukan Bungay and Walo Bungay, leaders of the eponymous Bungay Group and two of the most wanted men in SOCSKSARGEN, said Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command chief.
Members of the Army’s 90th and 34th Infantry Battalions, 62nd Division Reconnaissance Company, and police carried out the operation against the Bungays before dawn Sunday, but the two and their cohorts opened fire on the operatives.
The Bungays were reportedly facing arrest warrants for two counts of robbery with homicide, murder, and frustrated murder.
Brig. Gen. Roberto Capulong,, Army 602nd Infantry Brigade commander, said the operation resulted in a running gunbattle that lasted for six hours, before the Bungays were cornered at a marshy area of Barangay Bualan, around 6 a.m.
“Our forces are in the area as part of the Joint Task Force-Central’s intensified operations against the BIFF-Karialan faction. Based on reports from the ground, the armed group of the Bungay brothers harbored the group of Karialan who has been evading government forces,” Capulong added.
“They (Bungays) are not really insurgents, but the BIFF would usually enter their area when being pursued by our troops and their group also runs to known BIFF areas when it is being chased. They are allied,” Lt. Col. John Paul Baldomar, Army 6th Infantry Division, told the Daily Tribune.
Operatives seized an M16A1 rifle, an M16 rifle, a caliber-.45 pistol, various types of ammunition, 10 bandoliers, several parts of firearms, four cellphones, and personal belongings from the Bungays.
The arrested suspects and items confiscated from them were brought to the North Cotabato Police Provincial Office in Kidapawan City, while troops are still tracking down the Bungays’ followers, Vinluan said.