By Mike U. Crismundo
Butuan City – Combat maneuvering troops, supported by war earth-moving facilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), on Monday pressed their wide pursuit operations against more than 100 fleeing New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who swooped down and set up a road block at a Mimbalite area, Barangay Eureka, Gingoog City late Friday afternoon.
On the other hand, combat pilots of the Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) strike wing are already on standby alert for possible air cover to the pursuing combat maneuvering troops of the Army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade.
Combat maneuvering battalion of the Army’s 401st Infantry (Unity) Brigade also conducted blocking position along the provincial border of Agusan del Norte and Misamis Oriental in the possible escape route of withdrawal of the NPA rebels.
According to the latest information reaching here, the fleeing rebels of the NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), are now heading to Utao River in Agusan del Norte.
The expanded hot pursuit operation of the combat maneuvering troops of the Army’s 4thInfantry (Diamond) Division is also supported by the forces of Northeastern Mindanao Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13), as blocking force in the regional border of northeastern and northern Mindanao regions.
On Friday at 1 p.m., at least 130 heavily armed rebels believed to be members of guerilla-Front Committee 4-B of the CPP-NPA North-Central Mindanao Regional Committee under certain ”Commander Dahon” swooped down and set up a road block at a Mimbalite area in Eureka, Gingoog City and held 10 workers of construction firm, took their vehicles and Isuzu pickup and forward boom truck.
According to initial report from Gingoog City Police Station (GCPS), the rebels also seized some personal belongings of the workers.
The 10 workers, with one field engineer were heading to Sitio Mimbalite of that same city when they were flagged down by the rebels past 12 noon on Friday, GCPS report said.
The workers were riding a pickup truck, a dump truck and a boom truck at that time, it said.
The rebels commandeered the vehicles and brought the workers to Sitio Talangisog where they were held for over five hours.
GCPS report also added that the construction workers were temporarily held hostage by the NPAs and lectured them (workers) not to believe the local government’s promise of a certificate of ancestral domain title before releasing them, after almost five hours.
No one was reported harmed among the released construction workers of Equi-Parco Construction Company based in Butuan city.
The rebels returned to the workers the vehicles including their belongings before 5 p.m. on the same day, it was learned.
As of this posting, wide pursuit operations against the fleeing rebels are still ongoing while the GCPS is preparing charges in court against the suspects who temporarily held hostage the construction workers while also conducted road blocking during the incident.
GCPS city director Supt. Roel Lamiing said they are gathering vital information from the released construction workers in addition to their preparation for filing of appropriate charges against the group of “Commander Dahon.”