A NORTHERN Mindanao police official has dismissed the series of attacks by communist rebels, saying the region remains safe and secure and that the rebels were just putting up a show of force to get noticed by world leaders.
Superintendent Lemuel Gonda, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office (PRO)-Northern Mindanao, downplayed the attacks on the police and military in Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, and Iligan City in the past week as the communists have become "weak."
"Ang ilang giingon nga nag-atake sila pagpakita sa Asean nga kusog ilang pwersa pero hinay na sila ug patalikod ilang attack (They said they launched the attack due to the ASEAN summit to show their force but they are actually weak as they attack treacherously)," Gonda said.
But Gonda said the attacks have prompted them to further strengthen intelligence monitoring and collaboration with the military and other law enforcement groups.
Gonda said Chief Superintendent Timoteo Pacleb, PRO-10 regional director, has already ordered all police stations in areas with known NPA presence to put in place stronger security measures.
Pacleb has also ordered the putting up of more checkpoints with stricter security inspections.
Pacleb, however, warned policemen in the region to be cautious and vigilant in responding to calls for police assistance in rebel-infested areas especially at night.
"We have standard operating procedure about anang pagrespond sa red areas nga dili gyud pwede. Ang gabuhaton ana is i-coordinate sa barangay to verify reports (What we do is we coordinate with the barangay to verify the information)," Gonda said.
"Naa tay station guard sa matag police station kung asa didto ra mag-entertain ug mga tawo kay dili ta magkumpyansa (we have station guard in every police station where concerns are entertained because we cannot let our guard down)," Gonda added.
Gonda said an alarm system was purposely installed for emergency situations should the rebels attempt to overrun the police station.
On the NPA apology to the family of the 4 month-old baby killed in the crossfire of an NPA attack, Gonda said the rule of law must prevail and said the police will go after the perpetrators and put them behind bars.
"Dili buot pasabot mag-sorry ka exempted na ka sa criminal liability kinahanglan sila filan og kasong murder (It doesn't mean that they said sorry they are already exempted of the criminal liability. They must be charged)," Gonda said.
In its statement, the NPA-North Central Mindanao Region had expressed their condolences and are asking for forgiveness from the family and relatives of the slain and wounded civilians.
Meanwhile, two police personnel were abducted in Surigao Del Norte on Monday afternoon, November 13, by suspected NPA rebels, a military official said Tuesday.
Major Ezra Balagtey, spokesperson of Eastern Mindanao Command, said the two policemen were forcibly taken by around 20 armed men on board two white vans without license plate around 1:35 p.m. on Monday, November 13.
The names of the policemen, both members of the Placer Municipal Police Station, have been withheld. They were on duty at the police outpost in Bad-as Public Market when the abduction took place.
Balagtey said government forces were conducting search and rescue operation. Police have yet to identify the NPA responsible for the abduction.
“This incident runs counter to the spirit of peace talks that everyone is pushing (for),” said Balagtey.
The peace talks between the government and the communist rebels are in limbo. President Rodrigo Duterte said in July that there will be no more negotiations following the intensified attacks by rebels in response to the martial law proclaimed in Mindanao. (With SunStar Philippines)
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on November 16, 2017.