From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 25): Soccsksargen Police assures region’s security amid series of NPA attacks
Soccsksargen Police assured Friday that the region’s security situation remains under control after a series of attacks staged by suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in the past two weeks.
Regional police director, Chief Supt. Cedrick Train, said the region has remained relatively peaceful despite the attacks, the latest of which was the burning of a Yellow Bus Lines (YBL) passenger bus in the outskirts of Kiamba town in Sarangani province on Thursday.
“Our investigation has been continuing and we are already pursuing some leads into these incidents,” he told reporters.
Since Nov. 14, armed men claiming to be NPA members have launched four separate attacks in this city and in the provinces of South Cotabato and Sarangani.
A YBL bus was burned in Tupi town in South Cotabato while two heavy equipment owned by construction firms working on government projects were also torched at their sites in Barangay Alegria in Alabel, Sarangani and in Barangay San Jose here.
The suspects declared during the attacks that the owners of the concerned companies had failed to pay revolutionary taxes to their group.
Train however said they have yet to establish whether the attacks were really carried out by the NPA.
“Our intelligence units are currently gathering information as to the identity of the group and the involved armed men,” he said.
The police official said they are also looking into the motive of the attacks and whether a single group was behind them.
At least 13 armed men carrying high-powered firearms flagged down a YBL bus along the national highway in Kiamba, Sarangani at past 10 a.m. Thursday.
The suspects ordered the passengers to disembark, then commandeered the bus to the interior portion of Sitio Nama in Barangay Katubao, where they later torched it.
Bus driver Avelino Duran Jr. said they were on their way to this city when one of the passengers asked to disembark at a portion of Barangay Katubao.
Upon stopping, he said several armed men immediately boarded the bus.
“They declared that they were NPA members and assured that no one would be hurt as they were only after the bus. They said our management has not paid revolutionary taxes,” he said in the vernacular.
Sr. Insp. Ruben Lambago, Kiamba municipal police station chief, said the suspects immediately fled towards the mountainous portion of the area after burning the bus.
He said Sarangani police and the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion are hunting down the suspects.