ZAMBOANGA CITY: Communist rebels captured at least two policemen and an army soldier in daring operations in Agusan del Norte, where they put up checkpoints and roadblocks along highways in three provinces.
Police confirmed on Monday that the New People’s Army is holding Senior Police Officer 3 (SPO3) Edwin Castor of Wao municipal police station in Lanao del Sur; and SPO1 Warren Coñales of Impasug-ong Municipal Police Station in Bukidnon province.
The Philippine Army did not release the identity of the soldier, but Maj. Ezra Balagtey, spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command, said they are exerting efforts to rescue the “abducted PNP and Army personnel without compromising the rule of law, respect of human rights and adherence to international humanitarian law.”
He said rebel forces set up checkpoints and blockades along highways in Carmen town in Agusan del Norte, and in Impasug-ong and Talisayan in Misamis Oriental province.
Balagtey denounce the NPA’s actions, saying “The AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command condemns the road blockades set up by the NPA. This is a cowardly act for an armed group pretending to fight for the rights of the people,” he said.
The capture of security officers came after the NPA strongly denounced the brutal dispersal by policemen of protesting farmers in Kidapawan City in North Cotabato.
Over 5,000 hungry farmers and lumad (indigenous people) barricaded the highway and demanded food aid from the government, saying that their farms were devastated by drought brought about by the extreme weather phenomenon El Niño.
Rubi del Mundo, a spokesman for the NPA, said, “The National Democratic Front in Southern Mindanao and the entire revolutionary forces in the region are enraged by the bloody turn of events following the violent dispersal of the barricade mounted in Kidapawan City by struggling peasants and lumad who are reeling from the calamitous effects of El Niño in the province of North Cotabato.”
“No one else have their hands bloodied by the murders of three farmers, the wounding and detention of 116 others, but the fascist regime of US-Benigno Aquino 3rd and local reactionary government of North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza,” he said.