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10 arrested after shootout amid Moro clan peace dialogue

COTABATO CITY —  The police arrested 10 individuals tagged in a deadly shootout in Barangay Rosary Heights 6, Cotabato City amid a dialogue among members of the Sinsuat clan in nearby Maguindanao del Norte province on Tuesday afternoon.

The dialogue is meant to resolv e the deep-seated misunderstandings among them.  

Brig. Gen. Allan Nobleza, director of the Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, on Wednesday said that their main effort in the meantime is to diffuse tension among members of the Sinsuat clan while investigators are still trying t o determine the real circumstances that led to the incident and resulted in the death of Staff Sgt. Zahraman Mustapha Diocolano.

Diocolano, who belonged to the 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company of the Maguindanao del Norte Provincial Police Office, was an escort of Mayor Lester Sinsuat of the nearby Datu Odin Sinsuat municipality, the political bailiwick of their clan.

Responding policemen arrested Army Private First Class John Carlo Bravo Nocum of the 2nd Mechanized Battalion, Jholex Padsod Buludan, Ali Ibrahim Mongkar and Roufden Angkad Ameril, who were allegedly involved in the gunfight that led to Diocolano’s death.

The Cotabato City Police Office, in a report to Nobleza late Tuesday, said that six others were arrested in connection with the incident in pursuit operations several hours later.

The gunfight within the vicinity of the house of former Rep. Ronnie Sinsuat (Maguindanao del Norte) in Barangay Rosary Heights, Cotabato, venue of their clan’s peace dialogue, caused panic among villagers in houses nearby and employees inside the office of the National Irrigation Administration 12, just few meters away.    

The hostility among members of the Sinsuat clan is rooted to the controversial anointment by the United Bangsamoro Justice Party of Jamael Sinsuat as its candidate for mayor of Datu Odin Sinsuat during last year’s electoral exercise, against his nephew, Lester, who had won the two-cornered race handily.  

Jamael is a younger brother of Lester’s father, the late Ombra, and the ex-congressman Ronnie. Ombra had served as mayor of Datu Odin Sinsuat for three consecutive terms. 

Jamael was killed in a gun attack in the town proper of Datu Odin Sinsuat in September last year, an atrocity that hit the news and went viral on Facebook. 

The Sinsuat clan has been ruling Datu Odin Sinsuat since creation on Aug. 18, 1947, origina lly named Dinaig municipality, via an executive order by then President Manuel Roxas. 

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