Communist rebels still holding seized cop, soldier-A A +A
Saturday, January 19, 2013
TWO days after both the New People's Army (NPA) and the Armed Forces lifted the holiday truce on January 15, communist rebels has resumed military offensive against government security forces, abducting an off-duty soldier and a policeman in Laak, Compostela Valley on Thursday.
The NPA admitted to have "arrested and detained" the two law enforcers. It said in a statement the two are "being treated well."
The abducted law enforcers were identified as Private First Class Jezreel Culango of the Army's 60th Infantry Battalion and Police Officer 1 Ruel Pasion of San Isidro police.
The two were seized at around 8:30 a.m. at a checkpoint set up by at least 30 communist rebels belonging to Guerilla Front 34 Operations Command, in Barangay Imelda.
The NPA also confiscated a .45 caliber pistol in their possession.
Colango was held at gunpoint while Pasion, who passed by during the incident, was also collared by the rebels, who fled towards Barangay Tugpahan with their captives.
In a statement e-mailed to Sun.Star Davao Friday, Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson of the NPA's Merardo Arce Command, admitted to have "arrested and detained" the two law enforcers.
"The two prisoners of war are being treated well, their safety are of primordial consideration, as the NPA abides the tenets of international humanitarian law," Sanchez said.
He said the abduction was in retaliation to the attack conducted by the Army's 67th Infantry Brigade and 72nd IB troops on a detached team of NPA political officers belonging to the Guerilla Front 15 Operations Command in sitio Limot in Barangay Binondo in Baganga town, Davao Oriental at around 7 an January 16.
"The Red fighters were alerted and battled it out in a counter-defensive measure, but the team left its two high-powered rifles at the scene," Sanchez said in the same statement.
Army troopers launched on Friday a hot pursuit operation against communist rebels who abducted the two law enforcers.
Major Jacob Thaddeus Obligado, commander of the Philippine Army's 10th Infantry Division's Civil Military Operation Battalion (CMOBN), said troops from the 60th Infantry Battalion and Laak Municipal personnel are now working together to rescue the two NPA captives.
Obligado said that based on the information they gathered, some of the rebels were wearing military uniforms and the others were in civilian clothes.
Initial investigation conducted by Laak police revealed that Culango was on his way to visit his girlfriend in sitio Mangloy when the rebels conducted the checkpoint in the town.
The rebels seized Colango and Pasion, who happened to be just passing by, and were reportedly brought to sitio Tugpahan in Barangay Imelda in Laak.
Obligado said the abduction only showed how desperate the communist rebels are after their legal fronts failed in its propaganda while the soldiers and policemen are busy in providing humanitarian assistance to those families affected of the Typhoon Pablo last December.
"This is a desperate move of the lawless armed group NPA because their legal fronts failed in their propaganda. While the AFP and PNP is busy in providing humanitarian assistance to civilians, typhoon Pablo victims and government agencies, the NPAs are busy initiating violent criminal acts," Obligago said.
Eastern Mindanao Command deputy commander Naval Captain Severino David, in text messages to Sun.Star Davao, also condemned the NPA's action and has committed his support on the pursuit operations against the militant group.
"Kasalukuyan pa rin naming hinahanap ang mga na-kidnap. Pero hindi pa ma-disclose ang ibang details para hindi ma-compromise ang pursuit operations (We are still trying to rescue those abducted, but we cannot disclose details in order not to jeopardize the pursuit operations)," David said. (Ivy C. Tejano/Ruji Peter S. Abat)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 19, 2013.