THREE police officers and two soldiers are being held captive after the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels conducted 10 roadblocks in the provinces of Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, and Agusan del Norte, on Sunday, April 3.
In a statement issued by the NPA emailed to Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro, Sunday afternoon, the Maoist guerillas captured Senior Police Officer 1 (SPO1) Warren Hansol Coñales confiscating his .9mm pistol after they blocked the Sayre highway at Sitio Patulangan in Barangay Capitan Bayong in Impasug-ong town.
At the roadblock in Wao town in Lanao del Sur, the insurgents captured PO3 Edwin Panis Castor, assigned in Wao police station, together with retired police Orlando Maglipac Magamay who ws later released due to health consideration.
The rebels also captured SPO4 Rene Rombo during their checkpoint in Talisayan, Misamis Oriental. Rombo is assigned at Kinoguitan Misamis Oriental municipal police station.
Confiscated during the roadblock there were two .9 mm pistols and a .45 pistol while the rebels released SPO1 Gilbert Aguiman, after his child travelling with him begged to release Aguiman who is also suffering from an illness.
The insurgents also seized two members of the 23rd Infantry Battalion identified as Private First Class Glenn Austia and Private First Class Diven Abion Tawide during their checkpoint at Lower Olave, Buenavista town in Agusan del Norte.
The three police officers and two soldiers who are now under the custody of the different NPA units are being considered by the rebels as their Prisoners of War (POW).
Allan Juanito, spokesperson of NPA North Central Mindanao Region, said the simultaneous checkpoints were aimed at implementing the revolutionary policies on the conduct of the upcoming elections to achieve peaceful campaigns inside NPA territories.
Surki Alday Sereñas, spokesperson of Police Regional Office (PRO)-Northern Mindanao, said that the captives are being held as human shields by the rebels.
Talisayan and Impasug-ong towns are monitored as under Election Watchlist areas (Ewas) by the PNP and the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Sereñas said around 30 members of the NPA held each checkpoint that lasted about 20 minutes where motorists and passersby were held on queue and their belongings reportedly confiscated by the rebels.
“Mga 30 each area pero wala ta kabalo basin naa pay mga kauban nagtago. Specifically ilang gipanguha mga communication gadgets para siguro dili maka-contact,” Sereñas said.
Sereñas declined to give the names of the captured police to the press as their families must be informed first.
Around 6 a.m., Sunday, the provincial road at KM 13, Santiago, Manolo Fortich, the rebels flagged down about 92 commuters on board 42 motorcycles, two pickup vehicles, two elf vehicles, a multicab, and a farm tractor and gave them leaflets about the elections containing the guidelines following the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) to avoid involving civilians should politicians campaigning inside guerilla zones violate the policies the revolutionary movement is implementing.
The NPA is warning the civilians to avoid mingling with the armed forces of the government in their homes, public places or in private vehicles; avoid boarding on military vehicles such as the 6x6 and hummer trucks, KM450, police patrol cars, among others, and avoid also joining in convoys of vehicles with military personnel during election campaigns and on the election day.
The 4th Infantry Division (4ID) spokesperson Captain Joe Patrick Martinez confirmed the roadblocks in Manolo Fortich and Talakag towns in Bukidnon.
In a statement issued by the 4ID, it said the NPA rebels were reportedly spreading leaflets related to elections threatening political candidates with armed guards.
“The NPA threat is plain coercion to push their extortion demands,” the statement furthered.
4ID Commander Major General Benjamin Madrigal Jr. said, “What the NPA did is plain kidnapping and it is a crime punishable by law. They shall be facing charges on kidnapping and illegal detention.”
The PNP and the military maintains on urging candidates not to give in to the demands of the NPA.
Police Stations in nearby areas have been ordered to conduct checkpoints while the military is pursuing the NPA guerillas involved in Sunday’s roadblocks.