BUTUAN City– Suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels yesterday clashed with soldiers after raiding a construction firm and ransacking a security agency in different places in Caraga in time for the 39th anniversary of the National Democratic Front (NDF). Rebel and government forces exchanged firepower shortly before noon time in Barangay Bagyang, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur. There was no clear casualty report although the military claimed to have stumbled on an AK47 with ammunition allegedly left behind by fleeing rebels. The fierce encounter came about after suspected rebels barged into the firm Ronwood Construction and set afire its heavy equipment in Barangay Baleguian, Jabonga, Agusan del Norte.
The night before, some 16 suspected rebels posing as agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) ransacked an office of the Earth Savers Security Agency in Arujville Subdivision, Libertad here, police said. The highest known NDF leader in Mindanao, Jorge Madlos alias Ka Oris, told local radio said the raid on the security agency was the handiwork of NPA rebels. The NPA is the armed wing of the NDF. Madlos said the raid was carried out by a special operations group of the Cesar Cayon Command of the NPA. Butuan police station 3 head Senior Insp. Estelito German said rebels carted away some P15 thousand in cash, mobile phones and firearms from the private security company. German said the investigation and inventory of lost items were still ongoing. But Butuan police director Senior Supt. Pedro Ubaldo denied that the suspected rebels seized guns from the firm owned by retired police general Nelson Nario.
Madlos said the NPA took from the firm three sniper rifles, pistols, revolvers and a slightly used AK-47. He said the rebels barged into the Earth Savers office and hogtied three guards and an administrative official. Later, representatives of the firm said one of its workers has gone missing. Initial police investigation showed that the suspected rebels attacked at around 8:45 pm. They used a van that was subsequently abandoned in Barangay Bonbon here.
Hours later, suspected rebels stormed the compound of the firm Ronwood Construction in Jabonga, Agusan del Norte, and burned a bulldozer, a backhoe and a fuel tanker. Ronwood has been contracted by the government to undertake road repairs of parts of a highway in the area. Caraga police director Chief Supt. Reynaldo Rafal ordered an investigation into the raid and a manhunt against the suspected NPA rebels. A group, composed of officers from the 14th PNP Special Action Company, Jabonga police and 7th Special Forces have been fielded against the rebels.
In a statement released in time for the NDF anniversary, Madlos said his group would continue to “build the people’s revolutionary army and the people’s defense system.” Reads part of his statement: “In Mindanao, we have already established 42 company- and platoon-sized fronts, and thousands of local people’s militia and selfdefense corps. In the last 16 months, these have launched more than 600 tactical offensives, and annihilated a total of over a battalion of enemy troops.”