By GERRY LEE GORIT
CAGAYAN de Oro City--The military on Monday said it is conducting pursuit operations as they are trying to locate a soldier who was held captive by the suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Bukidnon last week.
The Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID) has deployed its personnel to go after the captors of Technical Sergeant Joseph Paredes, who belonged to the 8th Infantry Battalion, a unit of the 4ID.
According to Captain Joe Patrick Martinez, the 4ID spokesperson, Paredes was unarmed and was with his wife on board a motorcycle when taken by force by the NPA rebels in Barangay Poblacion, Valencia City, Bukidnon.
“He (Paredes) was on RNR (rest and recreation) and was preparing for his retirement,” Martinez said Monday.
The capture of Paredes happened just as the NPA fighters raided a security agency office while their comrades where conducting road blockade on a portion of the highway in said area last Friday.
Wearing police uniforms, a group of NPA insurgents entered the office of Dasia security agency and took away assorted firearms and other valuables before fleeing using the company’s armored vehicles.
At the road blockade not far from where the rebels stormed Dasia, another group of police uniform-wearing rebels flagged down motorists, one of them happened to be Paredes.
The NPA members kept telling motorists to stop as their companions were conducting “Tokhang” operation in the area.
Paredes was identified by the insurgents through his identification card.
“The [rebels] immediately dragged him (Paredes) off his motorcycle and hurled him inside of the armored vehicles. The soldier’s wife, who was shocked at the moment, was pushed down by the NPA to a mudded area,” the 4ID statement said.
In the same statement, Major General Benjamin Madrigal, commander of the 4ID, has lashed out at the latest activity of the NPA.
“The whole nation has again witnessed another blatant display of insincerity of these NPA bandits. Recently, they said they released two of our government troops as their gesture of support to the [Philippine government and NDFP] talks. However, with the recent atrocity, everybody is now asking the same questions—can we really trust them? And do they really care about the future of our nation when the only thing that is left in their mind is purely violence?” he said.
Madrigal said the military will continue to hunt down the NPA rebels in the countryside.
“We promise everyone that there will be on letup on our rescue operation to put pressure on the NPAs for them to immediately release our soldier and put an end to the violence they committed in the area,” he added.
Meanwhile, seven members, two of them women, of a paramilitary based in Bukidnon had surrendered to the NPA recently.
According to a statement released by the NPA to the media, members of the Alamara paramilitary group who are also active Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) personnel laid down their arms to the rebels’ Section 5 South Central Bukidnon-Sub-Regional Command, North Central Mindanao Region.
The surrenderees, the NPA said, were based in Sagundanon, Kibawe, Bukidnon.
“Their surrender was the result of our education campaign and call to abandon their group Alamara which was created by the AFP, and was meant to cause disunity among the lumad peoples so their lands could be stolen and used for plantation and mining sites,” said Ariel Magbanua, spokesperson of the NPA-South Central Bukidnon, Sub-Regional Command.
NPA said the surrenderees turned over their firearms including an improvised M79 grenade launchers with 23 live ammunitions, an M16 rifle, a Garand rifle, two M14 rifles, two D12 shotguns, assorted bullets, and other items.
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