Police on alert

Gov. Generoso cop chief abducted in NPA attack
THE POLICE chief of Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental was abducted by around 40 heavily-armed men suspected to be communist rebels in a Sunday night attack at the police station that also wounded a police officer.

Police identified the abducted official as C/Insp. Arnold Ongachen, the town police commander.

According to the report, the armed men boarded two pick-up trucks and an elf truck around 8 p.m. and immediately attacked the police station.

The 14 police officers present at the station returned fire that resulted to gun fight that lasted for an hour.

One police officer, identified as PO3 John Rey Cinco, was wounded in the attack.

“The armed enemy was overwhelming,” said C/Supt. Manuel Gaerlan, acting regional Director of Police Regional Office XI.  “When the armed men entered the station, our police officers already ran out of ammunitions.”

The town, he said, is isolated and the terrain is so rough.

“The place is already at the tip of the province that why we’re having a hard time in reinforcement,” Gaerlan told TIMES a phone interview yesterday. “They could have prepared to ambush the reinforcing troops,”

He said they received earlier reports that three other policemen were missing and another civilian was wounded. But those reports were found untrue.

Gaerlan said they have deployed additional troops and a police officer to take in-charge of the police office.

He said that a joint police and military operations are being conducted to go after the armed group and rescue the abducted police commander.

Pursuit operation

Three encounters between the pursuing forces and the rebels followed, said Capt. Rhyan Batchar, spokesperson of 10th Infantry Division, told TIMES.

The first happened at Barangay Camalion in nearby town of San Isidro, also in Davao Oriental, around 5 a.m. that lasted for about 30 minutes. It was followed by another firefight an hour later in the same area. The third one happened at around 6:30 a.m. No casualty was reported in the ensuing gunfight.

Operatives recovered the three vehicles abandoned in three Governor Generoso barangays — Magdug, Nangan and Surop.

Troopers of the 28th Infantry Battalion are still in hot pursuit.

“We are conducting checkpoints (within the area),” Batchar said.

The military is looking into the possibility that the New People Army (NPA) wants to show its strength in the area despite the decreasing number of its force as the possible motive of their attack.

“Davao Oriental is already declared as conflict manageable and development ready,” Batchar said. “They want to sow terror to show their force.”

Batchar said that based on the tactics of the attack, they could confirm that the NPA group was behind it.

“They attackers are alleging that they are the soldiers of the masses and before they left they shouted ‘Mabuhay ang NPA.’” he added.

According to Batchar, the Pulang Bagani Command 6 and Section Committee 18 under Sub-regional committee (SRC-2) of the NPA are operating in the area.

Military could not reveal the leader of the armed group.

“There were reported sightings before the attack happened but did not determine their target,” he said.

On alert

Gaerlan said they have already alerted all the police stations in the region after the attack.

“All provincial and municipal police stations are placed in full alert status,” the police director said. “We are conducting fact-finding inquiry and internal investigation so that we can improve the defense of our police stations.”

Meanwhile, Davao City Police Director Sr. Supt. Vicente Danao Jr. ordered to put the city on a red alert status after the attack.

“This order is for all police stations especially those in far-flung areas to be on alert,” said Chief Insp. Milgrace Driz, city spokesperson.

They have also to conduct maximum deployment in the precincts of Paquibato, Marilog, Calinan and Baguio police stations.

“So we need to be vigilant all the time and intensify our intelligence monitoring,” Driz said.

Last year, rebels attacked a police station in Mati City, the capital city of Davao Oriental, that wounded one police officer and killed one attacker.