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Suspects in election-related killings mobbed outside Cotabato court building

COTABATO CITY — Nine suspects in election-related killings last month were beaten on Monday morning in the supposedly tightly guarded premises of four courts inside the iconic Bangsamoro government center compound in Cotabato by relatives of their alleged victims.

Captured on video by netizens, the incident, considered by local residents barbaric and against cultural and religious tenets, went viral on Facebook and shook the city.

Six policemen escorting the nine persons implicated in the October 23 alleged shootout that resulted in the death of two candidates for barangay councilors in Cotabato, Alfar Ayunan and Nur-Moqtadir Butucan and a companion Faisal Abas, were also hurt in the incident.

The nine suspects were supposed presented for an initial hearing at the judiciary’s Hall of Justice inside the 32-hectare compound of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao on Monday morning when they were mobbed, in the presence of guards, policemen and personnel of at least four regional courts in the vicinity.

The court proceeding was reset as a consequence of the trouble that also sparked public indignation.

Col. Querubin Manalang, Jr., Cotabato city police director, said that they have identified the people involved in the melee who will be prosecuted for their criminal offense.

“Why can’t we adhere to the principle of due process? Let us leave the prosecution of the nine detainees to the judiciary. Let us not put the law into our hands,” Manalang said.

Among the nine suspects slated for arraignment got deferred as a consequence of the incident is a defeated candidate for chairman of Barangay Rosary Heights 12 here, Juhalidin Ladesla Abdul, most known as “Boyong,” who is of Maguindanaon descent.

Abdul sustained abrasions and superficial wounds due to the mauling attack. Policemen who escorted them from the Cotabato City Police Precinct 1 to the BARMM compound, Corporals Mannie Amador, Michael Salab and Patrolmen Al-Azim Gomonsang, Mohammad Talapas, Abulkair Dima, Nasrodin Disoma and Norodin Mustapha, were also hurt from the incident.

Manalang said that they will file charges against the people behind what he described as a direct affront to the judiciary,