GMA News Online

2 LTO personnel survive ambush in Agusan Sur

March 22, 2011 12:21pm

BUTUAN CITY — Two personnel of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) Caraga regional office survived a gun attack near the boundary of Butuan City and Agusan del Sur Monday morning.

Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC)-Caraga Assistant Regional Director Engr. Roman Jumawan told GMA News Online the incident happened in Sibagat town’s Barangay Tabon-Tabon.

Jumawan identified the victims as Almasan Minoga Romama, 36, a Maranaw and resident of Purok 1, New Asia, R. Calo Street, Butuan City; and Ismael Carnitas Baratas, 38, and a resident of Las Casas Elena Subdivision, Baan 3, Butuan City.

According to Jumawan, Romama and Baratas left their bullet-riddled vehicle during their escape.

Jumawan said Romana, the driver of the LTO vehicle, is not an organic employee of the LTO but holding job order position, while Baratas is an organic personnel of the LTO regional office serving as team leader of the Law Enforcement Group.

An official report from the Caraga Police Regional Information Office said eight armed men ambushed the LTO vehicle around 10 a.m. Monday.

An initial investigation showed the Sibagat police recovered from the scene 12 empty shells from caliber 5.56 mm and M-16 rifles, and an improvised explosive device with 10-meter wires that could be used for detonation.

The police report did not mention whether the two LTO personnel were wounded or managed to escape unscathed.

It said the ambush took place on a busy highway that serves as the only main road connecting Davao City and the provinces of Compostela Valley, Davao, and Agusan del Sur.

The police report said the ambush was not the first hit government personnel in the province.

In 2007, at least four personnel of a composite team from the LTO, highway patrol, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), local government unit personnel manning mobile checkpoint along national highway in Barangay Antongalon, Butuan City – only three kilometers away from the scene in Monday's ambush – were killed after undetermined number of armed men opened fire at them.

The New People’s Army owned up to the 2007 attack, saying the personnel manning the mobile checkpoint were allegedly so corrupt and were involved in extortion.

They claimed those manning the checkpoints asked money from cargo and logging trucks, including motorists who passed the highway, the report added.

Last February, suspected NPA rebels attacked the Barangay Pulang Lupa forest product checkpoint in Trento, Agusan del Sur, killing two and abducting one police officer who was also later released.

NPA rebels’ press statement also cited rampant corruption at the same checkpoint. — Ben Serrano/LBG, GMA News
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