GINGOOG CITY -- More than a hundred of residents marched to the streets on Tuesday to denounce the atrocities sowed by the New People’s Army (NPA) in the mountain barangays of Cagayan de Oro City.
Mayor Marie Guingona, said that she couldn’t understand why the NPA rebels who are supposedly pro-people, are trying to disrupt government projects that would benefit far-flung communities.
Early last month, a band of NPAs attacked Barangay Alagatan which targeted government troops who were in the area to install the water system for the community. The incident killed two civilians and wounded a child.
One of the soldiers, Private First Class Adonis Lupiba of the 58th Infantry Battalion of the 403rd Brigade, gave himself up to the NPAs just so to end the exchange fire and save the civilians from getting hit in the crossfire. The escaping Maoist guerrillas then abducted Lupiba.
The attacked traumatized the residents, especially the school children who later refused to go to school fearing that fighting would happen again.
u201cThe ‘Parade for Peace’ was to urge our brothers fighting the government to give peace a chance and give up their meaningless armed struggle so that this part of Misamis Oriental can hasten its share of economic development,” Guingona said.
She said that there is an ongoing negotiation for the release of Lupiba, which is spearheaded by the bishops of Christian churches in the province, but she did not elaborate.
It was learned from the military that the NPA is demanding for a 10-day ceasefire and the removal of government troops deployed along the tri-boundary of Agusan del Sur, Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon.
Colonel Jesse Alvarez, commander of the Army’s 403rd Brigade, said that there is an ongoing pursuit operation against the NPAs to rescue Lupiba.
u201cIt is beyond us, the Army, to negotiate with the NPAs who abducted one of our soldiers, but we will continue to hunt them. But we will guarantee the security of the negotiators and can only implement a stand down, not a ceasefire,” Alvarez said.
As the parade for peace was ongoing, the military reported an encounter between the Army’s 1st Special Forces Battalion and the NPAs at 4:00 p.m. in Barangay Mendis, Pangantucan, Bukidnon reportedly killing five NPA rebels and wounding several others.
Captain Jo Patrick Martinez, 4th Infantry Division spokesperson, said the operation of the Army’s Special Forces was part of the effort to rescue Lupiba who might have been brought by the NPA to the mountains in Bukidnon.