THE Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (Cocpo) is deploying another team of police officers in the hinterland villages to secure residents from possible threat of New People's Army (NPA) rebels.
Police Superintendent Allan Palomo, company commander of the City Police Public Safety Company, said a platoon of its Rapid Deployment Unit has been assigned to hinterland villages of Dansolihon, Bayanga, Indahag, Tignapoloan, Pagalungan, Pagatpat, Balubal, Canitoan, and Mambuaya.
Palomo said residents report seeing armed men in these areas but police are still validating these reports.
"May mga sightings daw sila but of course, subject for validation ‘yun lahat, hindi natin ina-underestimate yun. Hindi tayo dapat mag-alala kasi kabisado po ng tropa natin, kasi ang community naman is very supportive sa ating campaign (They have sightings but of course, all of those are subject for validation. We are not underestimating that. We should not worry because our troops know it well and our community is very supportive in our campaign)," Palomo said.
Palomo said they are not acting on request of the barangay officials but noted the need for police visibility on the area.
"Hindi po per request ito, ginagawa natin ito dahil trabaho natin ito. Tulung-tulong kami para ma-visit natin yung barangay at para masigurado ang safety ang ating communities. Naka-station po ang mga tropa natin dito sa hinterlands 24/7 (This is not per request. We are doing this because this is our job. We are helping each other to visit villages and ensure the safety of our communities. Our troops are stationed in the hinterlands 24/7)," Palomo added.
Pagalungan village chief Eric Nafarrete said he has already informed residents to report to him for sightings of armed men.
Dansolihon village chief Gilbert Nacalaban said there had been no sightings of armed men so far this week, which was due to doubled police and army visibility in their area.
Nacalaban said for Dansolihon residents, the visibility of law enforcement groups in their area is strange because of the distance of its village.
"Medyo layo gyud mi, labina tong giadto sa mga armo sa Sitio Balungkot, so nagpasalamat gyud mi nga naa nay police nga among masampit dayon bisan naa lang gamay nga problema kay adtong sauna, manawag pa baya mi sa Lumbia (We are quite far, especially Sitio Balungkot which was visited by the army, so we are thankful that we can call policemen even if it's just a little problem. Before, we used to call to Lumbia)," Nacalaban said.
Nacalaban said he wants a police precinct in their area so police presence will be permanent.
The Police Regional Office (PRO)-Northern Mindanao has also placed the entire region on full alert status following the several attacks perpetrated by the NPA.
PRO-Northern Mindanao spokesperson Superintendent Lemuel Gonda said all police units, provincial and city police offices were ordered to strengthen defense plans against possible harassment and attacks by the rebel group.
On Thursday, February 9, around 200 suspected NPA guerilla killed a suspected ex-bandit, burned down four heavy equipment, and allegedly abducted Police Officer 2 Anthony Natividad in Tikalaan, Talakag, Bukidnon.
Gonda said the joint pursuit operation by the police and the military is still ongoing, and the intelligence network is also tracking the possible whereabouts of Natividad.
Senior Inspector Edwin Ipan, Talakag town police chief, said witnesses at the NPA checkpoint in KM 26, Tikalaan village, saw the armed men haul off Natividad.
Tikalaan village chief Joel Alahay turned over Natividad's motorcycle after the NPA withdrew from the area.
Natividad was detailed at the Kalilangan, Bukidnon municipal police station.
Ipan earlier said Natividad was on his way to Camp Alagar in Cagayan de Oro City to undergo medical tests required for his schooling when he was flagged down and subsequently abducted by the NPA.
He said Natividad's mobile phone could no longer be reached since then.