By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – State operatives shot dead an alleged drug lord and financier of the Maute terror group during a law enforcement operation in Malabang town in Lanao del Sur before dawn Wednesday.
The Maguindanao-based Army’s 6th Infantry Division identified the fatality as Nago Balindong, one of top 10 wanted drug dealers in Lanao del Sur, a component province of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Combined elements of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-ARMM, the Army’s 6th Infantry Battalion and the local police cordoned Balindong in his hideout at Barangay Jose Abad Santos in Malabang with a plan to arrest him but shot him instead when he allegedly pulled out a gun.
The 6th ID, citing intelligence information, said Nago had links with the Maute group, whose militants staged the siege in Marawi City on May 23 and prompted the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao.
Nago’s wife, Noraya Santican Balindong, an incumbent barangay official, was arrested after the brief shootout.
The raiding operatives recovered shabu, a pistol and two fragmentation grenades from the couple’s house.
Capt. Arvin Encinas, public affairs officer of the Army’s 6th ID, which has jurisdiction over the Malabang-based 6th IB, said the operation resulted in the arrest of three of Balindong’s henchmen: Bocari and Camaloden, both surnamed Balindong, and Tingaraan Boro-Boro.