ZAMBOANGA CITY: Communist rebels launched simultaneous raids in Davao City in southern Philippines and captured five policemen and two government militias and seized at least 20 assorted weapons, a rebel spokesman said.
Rigoberto Sanchez, of the New People’s Army, has declared the policemen – Chief Inspector Leonardo V. Tarungoy, PO3 Rosenie L. Cabuenas, PO3 Rudolph Y. Pacete, PO3 Abdul Azis A. Ali, and PO2 Neil C. Arellano – as prisoners of war.
He said the policemen were in their patrol vehicle when rebels from the 1st Pulang Bagani Command intercepted them.
“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.
Their capture came after rebel forces swooped down an army post under the 72nd Infantry Battalion in the village of Salapawan in Paquibato district on Saturday and clashed with security personnel.
Two militiamen surrendered to the rebels following a firefight that lasted about 30 minutes. Two other militias managed to escape.
Sanchez said rebel forces seized 17 automatic rifles and three pistols and 30 magazines and munitions and other military hardware. “By sheer grit and superior command of the situation, the Red fighters were able to take control of the firefight…” he said.
He said the rebel offensive was launched despite the military’s deployment of troops to fight the NPA forces in Paquibato district.
“The victorious tactical offensive comes on the heels of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ [AFP] 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,” Sanchez stressed.
He added, “As Oplan Bayanihan nears its defeated end, this latest tactical offensive of the People’s Army serves as a nail in the coffin to one of the most atrocious operation plans the fascist AFP has ever unleashed against the Filipino people.”
He said 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.
The police and military have not released any statement on the capture of security personnel. AL JACINTO