The son of a former southern Philippine governor was among five people slain during an alleged shootout with government forces after they refused to stop their vehicle at a checkpoint, the military said Monday.
The weekend incident along a highway in Pikit town in North Cotabato, a province in the volatile south, marked the first killing at a checkpoint after President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered troops to fatally shoot anyone who resisted inspection at roadblocks.
Instead of slowing down the gray vehicle (pictured) picked up speed, as the men on board opened fire at the troops, said Brig. Gen. Alfredo Rosario, the local army brigade chief.
“They did not stop. Please, let’s respect our men in the checkpoint. Their only purpose is to secure us,” Rosario said, adding that that three high-powered rifles, ammunition, a grenade, and illegal drugs were recovered from the bodies of the people killed in the incident on Friday.
Hashim Matalam, the son of the late former North Cotabato Gov. Norodin Matalam, was among the five dead, Rosario confirmed. Norodin was also considered a local warlord.
Road blocks had been set up and police and the military were placed on high alert to prevent two rival Muslim clans from clashing, a common occurrence in many parts of the south. The region remains under martial law, which Duterte ordered two years ago to crush an Islamic State-linked militant force that took over Marawi City.
In December, Duterte directed the police and the military to intensify checkpoints. He also instructed law enforcers to kill those who refused to submit themselves to inspection at checkpoints.
“If you carry a gun and you pass by a checkpoint and you refuse to stop because you are with the governor or mayor, my order to the police and to the military, son of a bitch, kill them. Let’s try,” Duterte told reporters.
“Even if you’re a governor or a mayor, if there is a check point, those who refused to stop and fight with you, my order is shoot them. Let’s not talk about human rights,” he added.
Shortly after he became president in 2016, a local town mayor in the south and nine of his companions were slain after allegedly fighting it out with troops manning a roadblock. The mayor was on the president’s “hit list” of alleged drug lords.
Jeoffrey Maitem and Richel V. Umel contributed to this report from Cotabato City.