ZAMBOANGA CITY: Suspected communist rebels are believed to be holding two policemen whom they had seized in southern Philippines, according to the police.
They said armed members of the New People’s Army (NPA) arrived in two vans and abducted Police Officer 2 John Paul Doberte and his partner PO2 Alfredo Degamon Jr. while guarding their post in Placer town in Surigao del Norte province in Mindanao on Monday afternoon.
The vans, believed to have been stolen by the rebels, were abandoned and recovered by pursuing policemen in a village called Mabini, also in Placer.
The fate of the policemen remains unknown.
The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), did not issue any statement on the abduction of Doberte and Degamon.
The rebels previously seized policeman and soldiers and branded them as prisoners of war as part of their propaganda to show that they are still a force to reckon with.
Rebel leaders have repeatedly warned that they will strike hard against government forces after President Rodrigo Duterte scrapped peace talks with the communist group because of the NPA’s continued attacks in many parts of the country.
Just recently, the rebels killed a policeman in Duterte’s hometown of Davao after attacking him in the village of New Valencia in Tugbok district.
The victim was traveling on a motorcycle when attacked by the NPA guerrillas.
Major Ezra Balagtey, spokesman for the military’s s Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom), said the captors of the two policemen were under an unknown leader.
“This incident runs contrary to the spirit of [the]peace talks that everyone is pushing. It created panic and trauma [among]the people around when they [NPA rebels] perpetrated this incident,” she added in a statement.
Meanwhile, in Negros Oriental in the Visayas region, an off-duty member of the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu), was reportedly abducted and later killed by NPA rebels based in Barangay Talalak, Santa Catalina town.
The Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division said the incident took place around 8 a.m. also Monday.
Cpt. Eduardo Precioso Jr., spokesman for the 3rd Infantry Division, said the Cafgu member was identified as Gelino Vailoces, 52, who was assigned to the Alpha Company of the 12th Infantry Battalion.
“According to witnesses, Vailoces was forcibly taken by 30 armed members of the communist-terrorist group from his house at Barangay Talalak, Santa Catalina, Negros Oriental,” Precioso said in a statement.
Around 3 p.m. on Monday, he added, Vailoces was found dead 1.5 kilometers away from the Cuadra detachment, where the Cafgu member was assigned.
Precioso said Vailoces sustained gunshot wounds in both knees and in his mouth “which led to his instantaneous death.”
Vailoces’ body was brought to the nearest funeral parlor and, according to the spokesman, the victim’s family was preparing to file appropriate charges against the NPA rebels.
Quoting Col. Eliezer Lozañes, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade, Precioso said Vailoces was off-duty and was unarmed when the NPA rebels took him.
The incident was a “clear violation” of the Comprehensive Agreement in Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law or CARHRHIL, which was signed by the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
The NDFP is an umbrella group that counts the NPA and the CPP as members.
“Once again, we are calling on the communities to remain vigilant and report immediately the presence of CPP-NPA terrorists in their area so that we can put a stop to the suffering of our people from the ideology-based violent extremism, extortion, threats, intimidation and other criminal activities of the communist-terrorist NPA,” Precioso said.