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Davao PNP puts region under red alert after NPA attacks

July 5, 2008 1:14am
DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A string of attacks by communist rebels prompted the Philippine National Police to place the entire region under red alert Friday.

Chief Supt. Andres G. Caro II, Regional Police Office director, said the entire police force in the region is on "highest state of alert" as they strengthen their intelligence network to monitor the movement of rebels in the area.

Mr. Caro said the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), is no longer pursuing an ideology. "The rebels are showing themselves to be an organized criminal group," he said. The intensified attacks by the NPA over the past three weeks already took eight lives and wounded several others in separate occasions, starting with the ambush on four unarmed soldiers on a medical mission in Paquibato District last June 15.

On July 2, the body of Josefino M, Estaniel, a pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist who was allegedly abducted by the NPA, was found buried in a shallow grave in Calinan district here. Last Wednesday, three people were killed and 10 others wounded when NPA rebels threw a grenade into a bakery in Nabunturan town, Compostela Valley after its owner allegedly refused to pay revolutionary taxes.

Governor Arthur T. Uy already ordered a P200,000 bounty for any information that would lead to the arrest of the perpetrators. He also directed all police and military units to go after the attackers "at all cost." He said the bounty could still go up since a number of people have volunteered to contribute to the reward money.

Earlier that day, members of the Front Committee 20 of the NPA attacked the Asares mining base in Sitio Tinago, Mt. Diwata, Monkayo, Compostela Valley. The ensuing firefight left two NPA rebels killed and two policemen, P01 Jerson Maniquez and P01 Joselito Suarez, wounded.

In Davao Oriental, about 50 members of the NPA, posing as demonstrators, raided the Banaybanay Police Station last Wednesday morning, police said. The alleged NPA rebels arrived on two Isuzu Elf trucks and fired at the police station, leaving a policeman injured. The wounded cop, who sustained shrapnel wound on the leg, was identified as SP03 Abnelnasser Pesian.

The attackers fled with six M-16 rifles, two .9mm pistols and .22 caliber revolver. Based on the records by the Criminal Detection and Investigation Group (CIDG), the violent attacks allegedly by communist rebels doubled from January to May this year compared to the 30 recorded for the same period last year.

Sr. Supt. Jose Jorge E. Corpuz, CIDG chief, said the attacks range from killings, torching of equipment, raids on government facilities and police stations. He said the Davao region has become a "laboratory area" against the military after government pronouncement to crush the communist rebellion by 2010.

The military, which is already on red alert status weeks ago, is concerned about the intensified attacks by the rebels.

Task Force Davao chief Col. Ricardo Rainier G. Cruz said the NPA rebels are operating "dangerously close" to the urban area after a daring operation that led to the disarming of two highway policemen in Barangay Lizada, Toril, only about 16 kilometers from the downtown area. — Joel B. Escovilla, BusinessWorld
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