Mayor not the target of landmine attack-A A +A
Saturday, March 1, 2014
THE New People's Army (NPA) denied reports that its members targeted North Cotabato town Mayor Jaime Mahingpit in a landmine attack Thursday afternoon.
Colonel Nilo Vinluan, commander of the Army's 57th Infantry Battalion, earlier announced that three police escorts of Mahingpit were wounded in a landmine explosion when his vehicle passed by Barangay Datu Inda around 3 p.m.
The wounded police officers were identified as Senior Police Officer (SPO4) Hector Castillo, who was the escort leader of the town mayor; PO3 Joemer Ilagan; and PO2 Joselax Avena, all belonging to the President Roxas Municipal Police Office.
Vinluan said the landmine attack probably has something to do with the mayor's refusal to provide the NPA rebels with P1 million for their protection.
He added that NPA earlier asked P1 million from the town mayor before the government can continue the road construction in Barangay Datu Inda.
However, in a statement emailed to Sun.Star Davao, Ka Isabel Fermiza, spokesperson for the Mt. Apo Sub-Regional Command, said the NPA aimed at "trouncing the troops of the 57th Infantry Battalion and police personnel of the town."
"The tactical offensive did not target the town mayor who's with the armed convoy. When the mayor's gray Pajero passed, the NPA operatives switched on the command detonated explosives against 14 policemen in motorcycles and the military onboard a 6x6 truck," Fermiza said.
Fermiza said the tactical offensive was meant to deter the 57th Infantry Battalion, which intensified military operation in the towns of Roxas, Magpet and Arakan.
Fermiza said local government units and its functionaries should cease from directly participating in the military's offensive operations.
She added that people and local government officials are safe from punitive action if they will not engage in "counter-revolutionary violence."
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 02, 2014.