By Mike U. Crismundo and Joseph Jubelag
Butuan City – About 40 heavily armed New People’s Army (NPA) rebels swooped down on a farm company on Thursday, and set ablaze a cargo tanker loaded with palm oil products in Sitio Marangan, Barangay Basa, Trento, Agusan del Sur, a sketchy report reaching this city on Friday said.
An initial report received at the command and tactical operation center of Northeastern Mindanao Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13) based in Camp Rafael C. Rodriguez here from Agusan del Sur Police Provincial Office (PPO) said the rebels, wearing green sweat shirts with markings “Bagong Hukbong Bayan” (BHB), and armed with AK 47 rifles, flagged down a cargo Isuzu tanker at 8:45 a.m. along an agricultural road on Thursday, and ordered the driver to dis-embark.
It was also reported that the cargo truck was escorted by members of Agumil Philippines Inc. when it was stopped by the rebels.
They then proceeded to disarm one of the escorts of his 9mm-pistol.
“Thereafter, the other unidentified suspects chased the other escorts (away from the scene), and shot the said oil tanker several times hitting the left side that caused the oil to spill out. The suspects then burned the tanker,” an initial report from Agusan del Sur PPO said.
The truck was loaded with 19,000 kilos of palm oil products with estimated market value of P665,000.
The truck was travelling from Agumil heading towards Butuan City when the incident took place.
No one was harmed in the incident, the report added.
None of the other unarmed escorts and the driver was harmed during the burning incident, field report said.
Meanwhile, government troops were reported to be hot on the heels of a band of communist rebels, which tried to sow terror in a remote village in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur.
Lt. Col. Marion Angcao, 73rd Infantry Battalion commander, said troopers, led by First Lt. Darryl Cansancio, encountered on Thursday about 20 insurgents in the hinterland sitio of Asbalingan, Barangay Abnate, Kiblawan.
Angcao said the soldiers responded to reports provided by local residents that the NPA rebels, led by a certain Commander Jam-Jam or Borjack, were sighted in the area to conduct recruitment and extortion activities.
The rebels were tagged responsible for the burning a backhoe owned by a local contractor who was undertaking a government-road construction project in Barangay Malawanit, Magsaysay, Davao del Sur last September 16.
He said the 20-minute firefight resulted in the seizure of three high-powered firearms incuding M-16, Ak-47 and Garand rifles and other subversive documents which were left behind by the fleeing rebels, many of whom were believed wounded as evidenced of the bloodstains in the scene of encounter .
After the incident, the perpetrators fled away heading towards unknown direction.
Recovered from the crime scene were fired cartridge cases believed to be AK47 rifle.
As of this posting, joint personnel from Trento Municipal Police Station, Agusan del Sur Police Public Safety Company, SWAT team and Army’s 25th Infantry Battallion are still conducting hot pursuit and clearing operation in the area.
Estimated total damage on truck and palm oil products amounted to more than P2,000,000.00.
Meanwhile, PRO 13 Regional Director Chief Supt. Rolando B. Felix yesterday ordered the deployment of regional and provincial mobile forces to assist in the pursuit and blocking positions in any possible escape route of the fleeing rebels.
The fleeing rebels were believed members of the CPP-NPA Northeastern or Southern Mindanao Regional Committees, military and police intelligence sources said.