1 soldier killed, 1 cop abducted in rebel clashes

MANILA, Philippines – Communist rebels killed a soldier, abducted a policeman, and burned to the ground trucks and heavy equipment in a series of attacks in various parts of the country in the last two days. 

New People's Army guerrillas have launched attacks against government forces since the NPA ended its unilateral ceasefire on February 1, and President Rodrigo Duterte did the same on February 3, cancelling the peace talks as well. 

The President has also terminated the safety and immunity guarantees of political prisoners who were released as National Democratic Front consultants in the peace negotiatons. An immigration lookout bulletin has been issued against these consultants. 

Attack in Cagayan

In Sto Niño town in Cagayan province, Private First Class Rowel Tabuada was killed in a firefight between the government troops and communist rebels on Wednesday, February 8. 

Lieutenant Colonel Rembert Baylosis, commanding officer of the 17th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Army, said in a phone interview that an army troop was conducting a "security operation" in Balanni village.

This was after they received complaints from residents that there were NPA guerrillas in the area even before President Duterte ended the ceasefire with the Left.

Baylosis claimed on Thursday, February 9, that 5 rebels were also wounded in the clash. 

Mining trucks torched in Benguet

In Sitio Tapak, Barangay Ampucao, in the municipality of Itogon, Benguet, alleged NPA fighters burned to the ground two Philex Mining Corporation trucks at 7:30 am Thursday. 

Police Senior Superintendent Angelito Casimiro, the police's deputy regional director for operations, said 5 men introduced themselves as NPA members before setting the trucks on fire.

Benguet provincial police are pursuing the suspects. 

On Thursday morning, too, authorities arrested an NPA member, who is facing charges of frustrated murder for burning vehicles also owned by Philex Mining.

Equipment set on fire in Quezon

In Quezon province, communist rebels set to fire one dump truck, two mixers, and one bulldozer being used in the construction of the circumferential road in Sitio Centro, Barangay Casay, San Francisco town, on Wednesday night.

Lieutenant General Ferdinand Quidilla, commander of the Southern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said the NPA guerrillas launched the attack after "the refusal of the Rapid Foremost Construction Company to give in to the NPA’s extortion demands."

Murder, kidnapping in Bukidnon

Meanwhile, in Talakag town in Bukidnon, NPA fighters killed one resident, burned 4 heavy equipment and a generator set, carted 5 motorcycles from the commuters, and kidnapped one Philippine National Police personnel and another unidentified person at around 5 am on Thursday, February 9.

According to investigators from the Talakag Municipal Police Station, the NPA fighters forcibly took a certain Lito Siagan Atoy from his residence and brought him to Barangay Tikalaan. 

In the said village, they had set up a checkpoint, where they stopped and abducted Police Officer 2 Anthony Natividad of the Kalilangan Municipal Police Station and another unidentified person at around 6 am. 

The rebels also took away 5 motorcycles from commuters.

At around 7 am, the NPA burned to the ground two dump trucks, one generator set, one mixer, and one backhoe owned by the Mindanao Rock Corporation. The equipment were being used in the construction of a national highway designed to connect Bukidnon towns.

The rebels killed Atoy in the same location, then withdrew toward the direction of Lanao del Sur, bringing along their two captives.

Colonel Eric Vinoya, 403rd Infantry Brigade commander, has directed the 1st Special Forces Battalion, jointly with the PNP, to pursue the suspects. – Raymon Dullana, Rhaydz B. Barcia, and Bobby Lagsa/Rappler.com