A FORMER barangay chairman in Surallah town, South Cotabato included in President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s “narco list” was gunned down by two motorcycle-riding men while he was attending a town celebration on Thursday morning.
Former Upper Sepaka barangay chair Pudi Udasan Ambalgan, 53, had just participated in a parade of 1st Surbetube Festival and 55th foundation anniversary celebration when he was shot near the municipal hall at around 8:30 a.m., Chief Insp. Jardi Mont Sibal, Surallah police chief, said.
Citing accounts from witnesses, Sibal said Ambalgan was standing near their village’s booth located a few meters from the town’s rotunda when the gunmen approached and fired several shots.
The victim, who sustained two gunshot wounds on his back from a caliber 45 handgun, managed to call for help before going unconscious, said Sibal.
Ambalgan, who lost his reelection bid in the last May 14 barangay elections, was initially brought to the Landero Hospital in Surallah town.
He was transferred to the Allah Valley Medical Specialists’ Center Inc. Hospital in Koronadal City but was declared dead on arrival at past 9 a.m. by attending doctors.
Sibal said they immediately launched hot pursuit operations but failed to catch up with the suspects,
Investigators are currently considering all possible angles, including personal grudges and the victim’s alleged involvement in illegal drug-related activities, as motive for the killing, said Sibal.
“They’re likely hired gunmen but we’re still looking into that,” he said in a radio interview.
Surallah Mayor Antonio Bendita condemned the incident and directed authorities to exert all efforts to arrest the suspects and eventually solve the case.
Bendita said Ambalgan has pending administrative and criminal cases, both drug-related.
Ambalgan was biefly arrested and detained in 2015 by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency after yielding several firearms and drug paraphernalia in a raid at his house in Sto. Nino town in South Cotabato. He was able to post bail.
Ambalgan was arrested again last January 31 by elements from the Police Regional Office (PRO)-12’s drug enforcement unit in a search operation in Barangay Upper Sepaka, Surallah.
Seized during the raid were two caliber 45 handguns, a carbine rifle, and assorted ammunition.
But Ambalgan, who was listed by the PRO-12 as a “high-value target” drug personality, again managed to post bail and even ran for reelection in the barangay polls.