SEIZED ITEMS. The guns and cash amounting to PHP90,000 seized by soldiers from the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion and 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion during a law enforcement operation in Barangay Butilen, Datu Salibo, Maguindanao on Thursday (Sept. 19, 2019). Six suspects were arrested during the operation as tipped off by alert villagers in the area. (Photo courtesy of 6ID)

CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao — Combined elements of the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion and 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion have arrested six suspected drug peddlers with PHP90,000 cash, and high-powered firearms during a law enforcement operation in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao.

“The joint operation was conducted pre-dawn Thursday in Sitio Matilak, Barangay Butilen, Datu Salibo, Maguindanao,” Maj. Gen. Diosdado Carreon, Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID) commander, said in a report released to the media here late Saturday.

The operations, targeting two principal suspects, were conducted in Barangay Butilen to check on the veracity of reports about the presence of suspicious-looking men with loose firearms in the area as tipped off by locals.

Troops under 2Lt. Kim Belacuan raided the house of a certain Anwar K. Bucca, 49, and seized from him two sachets of suspected shabu and drug paraphernalia, one 9mm caliber pistol, a motorcycle, and a sports utility vehicle believed to be used for illegal drug trafficking.

Arrested with Bucca were Ruben Esmail, 27, of Barangay Butilen, Datu Salibo, Maguindanao and Tarry Esmail, 27, of Barangay Kanguan, Datu Piang, Maguindanao.

Simultaneously, troops under 2Lt. Raner Carl San Francisco also raided the house of a certain Samer Ali Quia and recovered from him one sachet of suspected shabu, drug paraphernalia, one carbine rifle, and five .45-caliber pistols.

Nabbed with Quia were Abubakar Kamidon Ali, 27, of Barangay Butilen, and Mak Ayub, 20, of Cotabato City. Both were at Quia’s house at the time of the operation.

Carreon said the operation was coordinated with the local police and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PDEA-BARMM) for the filing of appropriate charges against the suspects.

Carreon said the operation was part of the strict implementation of martial law in Mindanao against local threat groups and criminals in support of the campaign against loose firearms and illegal drugs.

Also recovered from the suspects were PHP90,000, one barrel of a US-made rifle, camouflage uniforms, several magazines, ammunition, assorted parts of an M16 rifle, Moro Islamic Liberation Front identification cards, and war materials.

The suspects will be charged for violating Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act and Republic Act 9165 otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002. (PNA)