NPA confirms clash with police in Talakag

THE New People’s Army (NPA) North Central Mindanao Command (NCMC) confirmed the clash between the NPA rebels belonging to the Mt. Kitanglad sub-regional command and the police officers of the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) in sitio Liburan, barangay Sagaran in Talakag town, Bukidnon Wednesday afternoon.

NPA-NCMC spokesperson Allan Juanito, however, didn’t confirm the alleged death of two rebels since he is still waiting for the details from the unit.

“Should there be casualties, I call on the authorities to observe the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) agreement between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA-National Democratic Front in the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP),” Juanito said in a statement sent to Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro Thursday evening.

He is calling on the police to provide decent care if dead bodies will be found or notify the families of the dead. He also urged the police to make it easier for the families or relatives to claim the bodies if not accord the dead bodies with decent burial should no one claim.

Police wounded

Talakag has been known for feuding clans, fearing bloodshed the villagers reported to police that armed men were sighted.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) responded and found out that the armed men were communist rebels. Wounded during the clash were Inspector Alwin Baclao, Police Officers 1 Marlon Mendoza and John Bodiongan. Baclao is the commanding officer of the 104th Maneuver Company of the RPSB in Northern Mindanao.

Senior Inspector Ronnie Francis Cariaga, PNP-Northern Mindanao spokesperson, said the firefight lasted for an hour, allegedly resulting in two fatalities on the rebels’ side. No bodies have been found as of press time.

Recovered from the clash area were one M16 Rifle and one .38 caliber pistol.

Baclao suffered serious gunshot wounds while Mendoza suffered a gunshot wound in his right leg and Bodiongan suffered a slight gunshot wound in his head.

The three were brought to a hospital in Cagayan de Oro City.

Cariaga said the PNP-10 in coordination with AFP territorial units is focused on providing strategic guidance in the performance of its mandated functions in protecting the state and the people as embodied in the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP).

“It shall aid government security units in planning for and contributing to the attainment of internal peace and security,” Cariaga said.

Senior Supt. Orlando Viñas, Bukidnon provincial police director, said he could not disclose the names of the fatalities yet.

Viñas relayed that the police officers sighted from a higher ground armed men cooking on the outskirts of Barangay Sagaran, about 16 to 18 kilometers from the town proper.

Viñas also urged the communities, who give the rebels food and water while they transfer from one place to another, to stop helping them.

Lt. Col. Jose Maria Cuerpo, 8th Infantry Battalion commanding officer, said that the army has sent teams to conduct hot pursuit operations against the rebels.

Captain Christian Uy, 4th Infantry Division acting spokesperson, also confirmed the military operations that will flush out the rebels in the area.

Police Chief Supt Catalino Rodriguez Jr., police regional director, awarded on Thursday afternoon the Wounded Medals to the three officers.

Rodriguez ordered the National Police to intensify its proactive security patrols to stop the communist rebels in advancing their criminal activities.

Among the security measures are the setting up of random checkpoints and the continuous enforcement of the election gun ban.

The New People’s Army is waging the world’s longest communist armed struggle in the world. In its 45 years of conflict with the Philippine government, it has caused thousands of deaths on both sides.

The government is currently engaged in a peace talk with the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the political arm of the NPA. (With a report from Loui S. Maliza)
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