By Edwin Fernandez

AMBUSH-SLAY. The former humanitarian official of the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) government, Ramil Masukat (inset, upper left), was onboard his red vehicle driven by a relative when ambushed by still unidentified motorcycle-riding assailants in Cotabato City at 7 p.m. on Sunday (Jan. 28, 2024).  He died while undergoing treatment at the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center. (Photo courtesy of DXMS Radio-Cotabato)

COTABATO CITY – Police authorities have launched a manhunt against those who gunned down a former humanitarian worker on Sunday night along a busy street here.

Col. Querubin Manalang Jr., city police director, identified the fatality as Ramil Masukat, former head of the relief and humanitarian agency of the now defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“We are looking at various angles and possible motives. Our investigation is continuing,” Manalang said.

Masukat, 55, was sitting in the back seat of his vehicle, driven by a relative, while traversing Ramon Rabago Street at about 7 p.m. when motorcycle-riding gunmen opened fire at them.

He suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died while undergoing treatment at the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center.

Masukat, who also served as municipal planning and development officer of Rajah Buayan town in Maguindanao del Sur, survived an ambush in November 2022 in Barangay Timbangan, Shariff Aguak town.

His death came five days after unidentified gunmen also killed an employee of the BARMM’s Bangsamoro Transition Authority in the city.

Deputy Minority Leader and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman condemned the murder of Masukat, urging police authorities to address the escalating violence.

“We condemn this brazen act of crime committed against Engineer Ramil, who at the time of his death was living a quiet life as a private citizen. May kaaway man o wala (With or without enemies), violence should not be tolerated in any form,” Hataman, a former governor of ARMM, said in a statement on Monday.

Hataman also raised alarm on the rising spate of violence, especially in the areas of Cotabato City and other areas in BARMM.

“I call on the police authorities to go after Engineer Ramil’s killers. Putting away the perpetrators of this crime makes our communities a little safer. Kailangang managot ang mga kriminal at mastermind sa pagpatay kay Masukat (Criminals and mastermind of the killing of Masukat should be held liable),” he added. (with a report from Zaldy De Layola/PNA)