PNP: NPA eyeing raids in N. Vizcaya
CAMP SATURNINO DUMLAO, Nueva Vizcaya–Police officials here on Thursday confirmed intelligence reports that suspected New People’s Army rebels have been planning raids on police stations in upland and remote villages of the province.
Senior Supt. Pedro Danguilan, provincial police director, said the police maintains high alert status put in place since last month following the noted heightened activity in the past weeks of communist rebels operating at the fringes of the Caraballo and Palali mountain ranges in Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and Nueva Ecija.
“This has been confirmed by the series of sightings of these unidentified armed groups in remote villages in Quezon and Kasibu towns here, and Carranglan in Nueva Ecija,” he said.
He cited intelligence reports that a team of NPA rebels, numbering from seven to 21 supposedly on a test mission, have been planning since December to stage a raid on the police station in Santa Fe town, about 45 km from here.
The rebels were allegedly eyeing a repeat of the December 23, 2000 noontime raid on the station, wherein they killed a policeman and seized seven M16 rifles, two M14s, three pistols and a number of radio equipment.
“They have been active these past weeks especially that no SOMO (suspension of military operations) was declared during the holiday season and during the 40th anniversary of the communist movement,” Danguilan said.
The police director said members of a supposed NPA raiding team have reportedly been massing up at an isolated residential area in Carranglan, Nueva Ecija, supposedly an ideal jump-off point for an assault on the Santa Fe town hall, which is only about 10 km away.
“The threat is still there, and that’s why we are not letting our guard down. The augmentation forces that I have earlier sent to a number of identified critical areas have remained posted there,” he said.
The armed men have also been spotted frequenting sites of foreign-funded mining projects, including the mine exploration project of British firm MTL Philippines in Runruno village in Quezon and the gold-copper project of OceanaGold Philippines, Inc. in Didipio village, Kasibu.
Last week, tension further heated up in Runruno after the town council declared Fr. Emiliano Ibera, the town’s parish priest, as persona non grata (unwelcome person) for his tirades against local officials.
Ibera and anti-mining protesters have been critical of local officials for supposedly ignoring people’s complaints against MTL, as they have allegedly been receiving favors from the mining company.
“As you know, these mining areas could be used by the NPA as a recruitment base due to the conflicts involved,” he said, alluding to the brewing rift between pro- and anti-mining villagers and the complaints of alleged abuses committed by mining companies.
According to Danguilan, pursuit operations launched by the PNP special forces here forced the suspected rebels sighted in Runruno to flee towards the Palali hinterlands of Cabarroguis, Quirino.
The police official said they were also looking into recent reports of alleged extortion activities purportedly by NPA rebels, who have sent out demand-letters for revolutionary taxes to businessmen in Aritao town.
“We are still making further inquiry because from our initial assessment, although they used the CPP-NPA letterhead, the text of the demand letters does not seem to be the work of someone from the movement; that is just not their style,” he said.