TROOPS belonging to the Philippine Army's 10th Infantry Division launched on Tuesday a pursuit operation against suspected members of the New People's Army (NPA) who earlier attacked two communities in Maragusan town in Compostela Valley, forcing around 55 families to leave the area.
Lieutenant Vilma Dequito, commander of the First Communication Information Company under 10th ID Civil Military Operation Battalion (CMOBN), said the affected families leave their homes Sunday, after the NPA stayed in and held Barangay Mahayahay on Saturday for three hours.
Dequito said the communist rebels simultaneously attacked the mining tunnels of Em-em Genita, Rene Cinco and Robert "Bebot" Uy at Sitio Langub in Barangay Pamitaran around 3 p.m. Saturday and took away their personal belongings.
Dequito said the rebels onboard two Sadam trucks and several motorcycles fled to Barangay Mahayay. According to residents, the group arrived at 5 p.m.
The NPA held the area for three hours and leave at 8 p.m., dragging with them one Vic-Vic Bebitcan as hostage.
"Bebitcan was released in Tagum City, right after the rebels managed to escape," Dequito said.
Dequito said a father and son miners, identified only as Teofilo Buhatan and Pido Buhatan, were allegedly abducted on November 6 in Barangay Andili in Mawab in Compostela Valley. She added that the two were released on Sunday.
"Ang ginawa nilang (NPA) pagnanakaw ng mga sasakyan, pag-raid ng mga minahan at higit sa lahat ang paggamit ng mga tao bilang human shield ay isang tahasang pag-labag sa karapatang pantao," said Lieutenant Colonel Michael Logico, commander of the 66th Infantry Battalion.
Dequito said the 55 families have not yet returned to their homes out of fear that the rebels will come back. This, she added, holds true after their troops encountered 30 NPA rebels around 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Dequito said the troops are conducting a clearing operation in affected barangays in Maragusan town when the rebels attacked them, prompting the troops to retaliate. She said no one was hurt in the incident.
"Sa ngayon, wala pang advice na pwede ng bumalik yung mga nagsialisan na families. The clearing operation still ongoing, and we are also conducting hot pursuit operation against those rebels na umatake sa tropa kahapon," she said.