By Edwin Fernandez

NEUTRALIZED. Several of the firearms seized during a police anti-illegal firearms operation in Malabang town, Lanao del Sur, on Saturday (June 22, 2024). Slain during the operation was Billy Jack Ogca (inset), chairperson of Barangay Poblacion in Balabagan town, who was part of the group dealing the firearms. (Photo courtesy of CIDG BARMM)

CAMP S.K. PENDATUN, Maguindanao Sur – Police authorities have launched a manhunt against companions of a Lanao del Sur village chairperson slain during an anti-illegal firearms buy-bust operation Saturday afternoon.

The village official, identified as Billy Jack Ogca, chairperson of Barangay Poblacion in Balabagan town, Lanao del Sir province, was fatally injured after he traded shots with the law enforcement officers during the 1 p.m. operation.

Lt. Col. Ariel Huesca, chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said four other companions of the village chief managed to escape.

Huesca said one of the village chair’s companions earlier agreed to deal with a police undercover agent on the sale of assorted firearms.

“At the time of the transaction, however, Ogca’s companion noticed the presence of cops nearby and opened fire, triggering a shootout that wounded the village official,” he said.

Police rushed the critically injured Ogca to the Dr. Serapio Montañer Hospital in the municipality, but he was pronounced dead on arrival.

CIDG operatives recovered an M14 rifle, two M16 rifles, an M4 rifle, two .45-caliber pistols, assorted magazines, and ammunition. (PNA)