Interrogation of 9 rebels still ongoing

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

AUTHORITIES are looking into the possibility of filing appropriate charges against nine suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who were arrested in an encounter with government troops following an attack on the police station in Matanao, Davao del Sur on Monday, March 10.

Police Regional Office-Davao Region (PRO 11) director Chief Superintendent Wency Pascual refused to name the communist rebels who are still in a tactical interrogation with personnel of the Davao del Sur Provincial Police Office (DSPPO) and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Davao (CIDG) 11.

"Most probably, the nine will be held liable for criminal charges, if mapapatunayan na meron silang kasalanan. As of now, wala pang kaso na i-file against them. We're still wrapping up things, the nine are still in a tactical interrogation with the CIDG headed by Senior Superintendent Joel Pernito with the provincial police," Pascual said.


When asked whether there were lapses on the side of the provincial police, Pascual said there's none, adding that personnel of Matanao Municipal Police Station "are always prepared on whatever incident that comes their way."

"Alam na alam naman nila kung ano ang sitwasyon sa area. The policemen were just outnumbered though they had managed to fight back, triggering a gun battle that lasted for about an hour," Pascual said, adding that the station has been augmented with personnel from the Provincial Public Safety Command Center.

Davao del Sur Provincial Police Office (DSPPO) director Senior Superintendent Ronaldo Llanera, in a phone interview, said the nine were among the more than 50 rebels who attacked the Matanao Municipal Police Station at 4 a.m. Monday, leaving two police officers killed and three others wounded.

Llanera clarified that there were only two police officers killed during the encounter with the rebels. The two fatalities were identified as Senior Police Officer 1 Manolo Booc and Senior Police Officer 3 Danny Moalong, while wounded were Inspector Renato Uy, PO1 Sherwin Cadungog, and PO1 Gilbert Legaspi.

"Hindi po totoo na tatlong namatay sa kapulisan natin during their encounter with the NPA. In fact, nakakapag salita na po si Inspector Uy who was declared in critical condition yesterday (Monday) afternoon. As of now, our men are recuperating in a hospital in Davao del Sur," Llanera said.

It was the military who reported that three were killed in a press release from the 10th Division Public Affairs Office, where it said, “Three PNP personnel were killed in the defense of the station (one dying at 2:30 p.m.) while 2 others were wounded.”

The nine rebels, who are now locked up at the DSPPO jail, were arrested following their encounter with troops of the Army's 39th Infantry Battalion at Sitio Tagaytay in Barangay Saboy in Matanao around 6:50 a.m.

Two rebels were also killed in the pursuit operation of the government troops.

Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) Public Information Officer Capt. Alberto Caber earlier said that the communist group responsible for the successive attacks in Matanao is the NPA Guerilla Front 72 led by Felix Armodia alias Commander Jing.

Caber also confirmed that the 39th Infantry Battalion encountered anew members of the Front 72 at Sitio Lahak in Barangay Asbang in Matanao at around 9 a.m. wherein seven soldiers were killed and eight others wounded in a landmine explosion.

The seven fatalities were identified as Sergeant Porras; Corporal Pacionela; Corporal Jihani; Private First Class (Pfc.) Palma; Pfc. Tanjilul; Private Dayaday; and Second Lieutenant Alejo, while the eight wounded were Pfc. Lingco; Pfc. Abellana; Pfc. Pacquiao; Pfc. Alilaya; Pfc. Para¤al; Pfc. Kancan; Private Samano and Corporal Sanayatin.

Authorities believed that the attack in Matanao was a diversionary tactic of the rebels to divert the attention of the military conducting Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP) and security operation against the communist guerrillas, especially that the NPA Anniversary will be on March 29.

"Based in the initial investigation of our personnel, the rebels who attack in Matanao are coming from different groups -- meron galing sa Maguindanao, Cotabato, Zamboanga, Bukidnon, and among other areas in Mindanao, kasi nga malapit na ang anniversary nila," Pascual said.

On the other hand, Mayor Butch Fernandez has been forced to suspend classes in all levels in Matanao since Monday, as the military and police are still conducting their hot pursuit operations against the rebels who attacked the police station.

Caber also said the military operations have been spread at the far-flung areas, particularly in Magsaysay town, Hagonoy and Kiblawan, all of Davao del Sur; Colombio in Sultan Kudarat; and Tulunan in North Cotabato, in line with the authorities’ full alert level.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 12, 2014.

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