KIDAPAWAN CITY – Communist rebels killed an Army Ranger, a member of a platoon of soldiers that were supposed to investigate the presence of gunmen mulcting “protection money” from farmers in Tubay town in Agusan del Norte.
Local officials identified the slain soldier as Pvt. Phet Jordan of the Army’s 14th Scout Ranger Company, felled by rebel snipers while distributing ammunition to his companions as he and other soldiers traded shots with some 30 New People’s Army guerillas over the weekend in Barangay Tagamamarkay, Tubay.
Jordan belonged to a team of soldiers, led by Captain Fritz Montemor, dispatched to check on complaints of farmers in Barangay Tagamamarkay, Tubay about the presence of gunmen collecting “protection money” from villagers at gunpoint.
The Army’s 4th Infantry Division, which has jurisdiction over Tubay and surrounding towns, said Montemor and his men were on their way to a hinterland area in Barangay Tagamarkay when New People’s Army guerillas, positioned on a strategic hill, opened fire.
The public affairs office of 4th ID said Montemor and his men could have also inflicted casualties on the ambushers based on heavy stains of blood on the rebels’ escape route.
The incident in Tubay came just as residents of Barangay Mua-an here spotted some 30 heavily-armed NPAs, who were seemed preparing for an attack.
Rebels have attacked three project sites of private construction companies building roads linking interior farming districts to the center of Kidapawan City in the past three weeks.
The rebels burned costly road-building equipment of the construction companies after their owners refused to shell out money.
Lt. Col. Noel Dela Cruz, commanding officer of the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion, which has jurisdiction over Kidapawan City, said the rebels that converged at Barangay Mua-an fled towards different directions after sensing that responding soldiers, backed by civilian volunteers and members of the city’s Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit have started closing in.