Massive manhunt launched vs NPA raiders in Agusan

MANILA, Philippines – Army troops have launched massive pursuit operations against members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who kidnapped three persons from a mining firm in Agusan del Sur last week.

Maj. Eugenio Julio Osias IV, spokesman of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said the main objective of the ongoing massive Army operations are members of the NPA’s Section Command 14 of the North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee (NEMRC) led by Renato Sarayat alias Commander Friday.

“At present, we are mounting massive pursuit operations against the group of Sarayat. I cannot just divulge the exact place so as not to endanger the lives of our ground troops,” Osias said.

At least 30 rebels led by Sarayat raided the VPO gold mining firm in Barangay Baguyan, Rosario town owned by the Ocite family early morning Thursday.

After disarming the security personnel of the firm, the rebels proceeded to ransack the place and took hostage its employees.

In the course of the negotiations conducted by the local crisis management committee, it was learned that the management of the mining firm gave in to the rebels’ demand by providing them with five shotguns, nine caliber .45 pistols, an M14 rifle, one AK-2000 and a homemade M203 grenade launcher.

The rebels, however, escaped with three hostages – Chirstopher Ocite, operations manager of the VPO Mining, Gani Altaya, assistant operations manager and Joel Jayuma — whom they used as human shields.

The rebels later demanded P25 million ransom and more firearms from the negotiating team in exchange for the release of the three VPO mining executives.

Ocite, Altaya and Jayuma were released Saturday evening.

There were unconfirmed reports that ransom money and the guns demanded by the insurgents were given to them.

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