ZAMBOANGA CITY: The New People’s Army (NPA) in Davao City captured five police officers and two government militias whom they declared “prisoners of war” (POWs) during simultaneous raids on Saturday, a rebel spokesman said.
New People’s Army’s (NPA) Rigoberto Sanchez said their captives – Chief Inspector Leonardo Tarungoy, Police Officer 3 (PO3) Rosenie Cabuenas, PO3 Rudolph Pacete, PO3 Abdul Azis Ali, and PO2 Neil Arellano – were aboard a patrol vehicle when intercepted by their 1st Pulang Bagani Command.
“The POWs will be held in custody pending an investigation for possible war crimes and other crimes against the people and the revolutionary movement,” Sanchez said.
At least 60 NPA guerrillas also stormed and burned the army post under the 72nd Infantry Battalion in the village of Salapawan in Paquibato district and clashed with government forces. Two militias surrendered to the rebels following a firefight while two others managed to escape.
Sanchez said rebel forces seized 17 automatic rifles, three pistols and 30 magazines and munitions and other military hardware.
He said the rebel offensive was launched despite the military’s deployment of troops to fighting the NPA forces in Paquibato district.
“The victorious tactical offensive comes at the heels of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ pompous declaration that (the anti-insurgency campaign) Oplan Bayanihan has weakened the armed resistance of the NPA following the death of beloved Red Commander Leoncio “Ka Parago” Pitao last year.”
He added the 1st Pulang Bagani Battalion and all 10 NPA units in the (Davao) region have become even more inspired to wage armed struggle, agrarian revolution, establish the seeds of a socialist government and “squarely defeat the onslaught of heightened and sustained attacks by enemy troops.”
“While the entire ruling class presently squabbles in the current reactionary elections, the New People’s Army remains steadfast to wage war and address the lasting problems of the Filipino people,” Sanchez said.
Meanwhile, investigation is being conducted to determine the administrative lapses of some military personnel following the raid on Saturday.
Capt. Rhyan Batchar, spokesperson of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division said the command will also determine the facts behind the Saturday’s raid on Civilian Armed Auxiliary (CAA) Detachment in Sitio Quiman Anao of Salapawan village.
He said authorities will look into the likely liabilities of military and CAA personnel at the detachment including possible lapses.
Asked if the military personnel could be liable for abandonment of post, Batchar said that based on information, those in the detachment were forced to leave their post because the military base was already engulfed by fire.
Pending the result of the investigation, the military personnel and CAA have been restricted to the Army’s 1003rd Brigade headquarters in Davao del Norte.