MAKILALA, North Cotabato—After President Rodrigo Duterte publicly linked them to illegal drugs two months ago, Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao province, and his wife Anida, the town’s vice mayor, flew to Manila and turned themselves in.
No charges were brought against the Dimaukoms, among more than 150 former and current government officials and policemen who appeared on a wanted list for alleged drug links that Mr. Duterte disclosed as part of a shame campaign.
The Dimaukoms returned to their town.
At 4:30 a.m. on Friday, Mayor Dimaukom was killed along with nine others, including five of his bodyguards, in what police described as a shootout in Barangay Old Bulatukan here.
Dimaukom was the first to be killed as a new phase of Mr. Duterte’s brutal war on drugs began, zeroing in on high-profile targets.
From targeting drug dealers and pushers, police have shifted the campaign’s focus to politicians, government officials, celebrities and high-ranking military and police officials suspected of involvement in the narcotics trade.
Mr. Duterte returned from a three-day visit to Japan late on Thursday and during a news conference waved a thick book that he said contained names of officials suspected of drug links.
He said the book contained about 3,000 names.
Of the more than 3,700 suspects killed in Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs, more than 1,600 died during police operations, a toll that has drawn international concern about extrajudicial killings.
The killing of Dimaukom took place far from Datu Saudi Ampatuan.
“It was a legitimate police operation,” said Supt. Bernard Tayong of the North Cotabato police office, adding that no officers were hurt but a police vehicle was riddled with bullets.
Tayong said agents from the Philippine National Police Anti-Illegal Drug Task Force in Manila and officers from the Central Mindanao Police Office set up a checkpoint on the highway in Old Bulatukan after receiving information that Dimaukom and his men would pass through the village transporting methamphetamine—a prohibited and extremely addictive stimulant drug locally known as “shabu”—to Maguindanao from Davao City.
“We have information the mayor and his men were transporting drugs so we tried to intercept them, but they chose to shoot it out,” Tayong told reporters. Dimaukom had been under police surveillance following reports that he continued trading drugs after surrendering in August.
Tayong said that at around 4:30 a.m. Friday, the officers at the checkpoint saw two vehicles, one of them a Toyota Land Cruiser believed to be carrying Dimaukom, coming and flagged them down.
“Our initial report said the vehicles carried heavily armed men who opened fire on the law enforcers, prompting the authorities to fire back,” Tayong said.
After the exchange of fire, the officers found 10 men in the vehicles wounded, including the 53-year-old Dimaukom.
The 10 men succumbed to their wounds on the way to a hospital in Makilala, Tayong said.
Old Bulatukan is 14 kilometers from the Makilala town center, where the hospital is located.
Besides Dimaukom, those who died were identified as Mubarak Ali Pasagui, 26; Fahad Dimananal, 25; Almer Ali, 20; Aladin Guiamad, 35; Fahir Madi, 28, and the mayor’s bodyguards—Bashir Mindog, 25; Haimen Anuar, 23; Suad Adam Guiamad, 24, and Nasrudin Alon, 28.
Crime scene investigators recovered firearms and 13 sachets of methamphetamine from the vehicles. TVJ