NPA warns of attacks vs mining

DAVAO CITY -- The New People's Army (NPA) in Southern Mindanao warned it will stage more attacks against government troops should large-scale mining and logging operations continue.

"As environmental destruction and loss of people's livelihood intensifies with the continued large-scale mining, logging and plantation businesses in the region, more and more AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) troops and paramilitary forces that serve as its security guards become easy targets and sources of arms of the NPA and the people's militia," Rigoberto F. Sanchez, spokesperson for NPA Regional Operations Command, said in a statement emailed to Sun.Star Davao.

"The people's army will continue to deliver lethal blows to the enemy, unstoppable in the face of the massive concentration of AFP troops in the region and increasing number of weak points in the enemy," Sanchez added.

The NPA unit belonging to the Guerilla Front 27 Operations Command admitted it carried out the "arrest" of Police Officer 3 Ruben Magno Nojapa Jr., 50, and Senior Police Officer 2 Randy Masambo, both assigned in Nabunturan Police Station, at a checkpoint in Barangay Mainit, Nabunturan, around 6 a.m. Monday.

Sanchez said they confiscated the .9mm handgun of Masambo, who was able to escape. They are keeping Nojapa as a prisoner of war.

There was no mention about the teacher whom the rebels were said to have abducted as well.

But Lieutenant Colonel Michael Logico, commander of the 66th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, said Monday that the teacher earlier identified as Romel Sumbilo was released soon after.

Colonel Angelito de Leon, commander of the 1001st Brigade, said the victims were kidnapped at a checkpoint set up by suspected members of the NPA who disguised as government soldiers at Purok 1 in Anislagan.

"The NPA checkpoint was part of its regular operations against undesirable elements in the area and the abusive Special Operations Teams under Oplan Bayanihan," the rebel spokesperson said.

The NPA said the Guerilla Front 27 also ambushed troops from the 66th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Cabidianan, Nabunturan, at 9:30 a.m. Monday.

The rebels said they also operated command-detonated explosives in Elizalde, Maco town, Compostela Valley, on March 15, killing four troops belonging to the 71st Infantry Battalion, and wounding several others.

"These were the seventh and eighth tactical offensive by the New People's Army using command detonated explosives this year that is directed against the Army's 60th IB, 66th IB, 57th IB, Division Reconnaissance Company, 28th IB and 71st IB -- all butchers and private armies of environmentally destructive large-scale mining and logging companies in the region," Sanchez said.

He said a team from the 1st Pulang Bagani Company-NPA also shot and wounded the commanding officer of the AFP's Special Operations Team in Paquibato district on March 15. (Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)



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