Rigoberto F. Sanchez, spokesman of the NPA’s Merardo Arce Command-Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command, said operatives of the NPA’s Guerilla Front 34 Operations Command arrested Pfc. Jesrel Colanggo (Jezreel Culango, according to the military) of the 60th Infantry Battalion and SPO1 Ruel Pasion of the Philippine National Police (PNP) at a checkpoint they set up in Mangloy village in Laak town, Compostela Valley on January 17. The NPA said they confiscated a .45 caliber pistol from their captives.
By MARILOU AGUIRRE-TUBURAN
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The New People’s Army (NPA) held a policeman and a military as “prisoners of war” in Laak, Compostela Valley.
This according to a statement from Rigoberto F. Sanchez, spokesman of the NPA’s Merardo Arce Command-Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command, emailed on January 18, three days after the Communist Party of the Philippines and the Aquino government lifted their respective temporary ceasefire declarations.
Sanchez said operatives of the NPA’s Guerilla Front 34 Operations Command arrested Pfc. Jesrel Colanggo (Jezreel Culango, according to the military) of the 60th Infantry Battalion and SPO1 Ruel Pasion of the Philippine National Police (PNP) at a checkpoint they set up in Mangloy village in Laak town, Compostela Valley on January 17. The NPA said they confiscated a .45 caliber pistol from their captives.
Major Jake Obligado, chief of the 10th Infantry Division’s Civil Military Operations Battalion, told davaotoday.com through text message that Culango was “on his way to visit his girlfriend.” Pasion, meanwhile, was flagged down upon passing by a checkpoint.
The military said the two were taken by 30 NPAs, some of whom were in military attire while others were in civilian clothes.
“Culango and Pasion were unarmed for they were both off-duty and in civilian clothes,” said Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza, spokesman of the Army’s 10th ID.
Culango is based in Sawata, San Isidro, Davao del Norte while Pasion is assigned at the San Isidro Municipal Police Station.
“Pursuit operations by the Army’s 60th ID and PNP is ongoing,” said Obligado, adding that they received reports that the NPAs proceeded towards Sitio Tugpahan, Imelda village in Laak town.
Meanwhile, NPA’s Sanchez said that “the two prisoners of war are being treated well, their safety are of primordial consideration, as the NPA abides the tenets of international humanitarian law.” He added that they conducted the checkpoint “to prevent undesirable elements and to counter the fascist Special Operations Team of the 60th IB under the AFP’s Oplan Bayanihan.”
Oplan Bayanihan is the counter-insurgency program of the Aquino government, a brainchild of the new AFP chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista.
The NPA said that the AFP’s 60th IB has a “bloody record against the masses.” It cited the killing of peasant Totong Mabinse of Datu village in Laak town as well as the “forced recruitment and coercive surrender of peasants.”
‘Defeating a military raid’
The NPA also said it “defeated a military raid against a detached team of NPA political officers in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental provinces.”
On January 16, the 67th Infantry Brigade and 72nd IB troops allegedly raided a “detached team of NPA political officers belonging to the Guerilla Front 15 Operations Command” in Sitio Limot, Binondo village, in Baganga town, Davao Oriental.
“The Red fighters were alerted and battled it out in a counter-defensive measure, but the team left its two high-powered rifles at the scene,” said Sanchez.
Sanchez said the NPAs have detached from the main front guerilla unit during the ceasefire to solicit goods for the relief and rehabilitation program for the Typhoon Pablo victims.
The military, according to Sanchez, has been conducting brigade-wide operations in the towns of Baganga, Manay, Mati and Lupon in Davao Oriental. It added that elements of the 67th IB and 28th IB of the 701st Brigade have blocked the entry and exit of residents in Sitios Tigbawan, Limot, Mantapay and Bagangan of Binondo village in Baganga town, and Sitios 72 and Tangaan of Manurigao village in New Bataan town.
“The AFP troops have gone berserk in violating the human rights of the poor, suffering Typhoon Pablo victims,” Sanchez said.
But Paniza said that “the AFP and PNP are busy in providing humanitarian assistance to civilians, typhoon Pablo victims and government agencies” adding that “the NPAs are busy initiating violent criminal acts” referring to the taking of Culango and Pasion.
“The NPA perseveres in taking part of the People’s Democratic Government’s medium-term program for the recovery of damaged farms and livelihood of suffering masses in Typhoon Pablo-hit areas in the region,” Sanchez said, adding that they will “defeat the abusive and deceptive Oplan Bayanihan that has made the lives of Pablo victims worse than ever.” (Marilou Aguirre-Tuburan/davaotoday.com)