A MILITIAMAN is held captive by the New People’s Army (NPA) belonging to Front 88 in Agusan del Sur on Tuesday, August 13.
Corporal (Cpl) Salman Abas was captured in Km. 25 in Barangay Mahayahay in San Luis, Agusan del Sur around 10 a.m.
The communist rebels identified Abas as the assistant cadre of Cpl. Benhur Mansulonay who belongs to CAA-Army detachment in Km. 55 in Barangay Binicalan also in San Luis town. The rebels confiscated Abas’.45 caliber gun.
Abas and his convoy were supposed to escort the staff of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DENR) from Barangay Laminga to Binicalan to inventory the trees in the ancestral domain of the “Banwaon-Talaandig-Manobo tribes.” When typhoon Pablo hit the Agusan provinces in December last year, those trees were knocked out and Mansulonay allegedly wanted to do business out of those trees alone.
In a statement sent to Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro on Wednesday night, the rebels said, “the lumads are enraged with Mansulonay for his alleged sellout of his fellow lumads.
“We can guarantee of Abas’ safety. He is a Prisoner Of War (POW) now and we are checking his backgrounds. If he has no offense against the people, we will release him. However, we are warning the military that any attempt to rescue him might put Abas at risk,” Omar Ibarra, spokesperson of the command, said.
Seven soldiers slain
In four days, the NPA claimed the alleged death of seven soldiers in its series of attack against the 58th Infantry Battalion (58th IB) of the Philippine Army in Claveria town, Misamis Oriental.
The Eastern Misamis Oriental and Northeastern Bukidnon sub-regional command of the NPA began its attack in Barangay Aposkahoy on April 9 where allegedly two soldiers died after the rebel detonated a command explosive device.
The rebels said the residents reported that the slain soldiers were transported in a military truck.
On August 10 at 9:30 a.m., an NPA reconnaissance team clashed with the 58th IB, but the rebels said they received no reports of soldiers killed.
On August 11, they launched another attack in Barangay Bulahan where they claimed four soldiers were killed and wounded three others. “The team positioned beside a trail and attacked the passing troops who were three meters apart,” said Lorena Mangahas, spokesperson of the NPA sub-regional operations command.
On the fourth day of its attack, the rebels attacked Barangay Farmbugas at 2 p.m. on August 12. Its field unit confirmed one soldier slain.
The NPAs said that no one was killed in the series of attacks that they launched last weekend.
“At present, military operations in Claveria are still going on. The enemy has spared no effort at hunting down the revolutionary movement in the province since April. The revolutionary forces, however, have become more steadfast at foiling the attempts of the fascist troops through close coordination with the widening and deepening mass base in the area,” Mangahas said.
No fatality, only 1 wounded
Lieutenant Colonel Leo Bongosia, spokesperson of the 4th Infantry Division (4th ID), told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro in a text message that no soldier died in the said clashes.
Bongosia reported on Monday that there is only one wounded soldier, Private First Class Christopher Lijos, who was airlifted to its military hospital inside Camp Edilberto Evangelista here on Saturday, August 10.
Bongosia said Lijos is now in stable condition.
He said soldiers were in combat patrol operation in the area when they sighted undetermined number of armed men that ensued in a gunfight.
“NPAs are just making untruthful information and propaganda to show that they are on the upper hand when the truth is they are not. Already, a lot of NPA rebels are laying down their arms and leaving the underground movement. Tired, hungry and with disbelief to the cause prompt rebels to surrender,” Bongosia said.
Bongosia added, “I didn’t even send to the media that Lijos shot and killed an NPA who jumped in a deep ravine that perhaps surely killed him.”
The army even captured an NPA rebel which Bongosia said he didn’t report. “I can’t just put statements of these and the numbers of NPA killed if there aren’t body counts or if witnesses insist that there were NPA casualties being dragged by their comrades,” he said.
“I can’t lie but NPAs can.”
Lieutenant Colonel Evan Bermudo, 58th IB commanding officer, said they discovered a makeshift camp in the area that could accommodate around 50 people.
Bermudo said three days before the encounter the military had been receiving reports from civilians that armed men are “doing extortion activities” in the area, prompting soldiers to respond.
Armed men were reportedly asking for food from village residents.
Bermudo called on rebels to stop their armed struggle “because it’s not the solution to achieve just and lasting peace.”
“It can be solved only through peace agreements,” he added.