MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 6 – 2:34 p.m.) A militiaman was killed while five members of the Presidential Security Group were wounded in a clash with the New People’s Army in Arakan town, Cotabato province early Wednesday.
The rebels confirmed the incident but gave a different account of what happened.
A police asset was also abducted by the communist rebels, authorities said.
Provincial police director Senior Superintendent Emmanuel Peralta said the 10 PSG personnel led by Technical Sergeant Ferbello Galleno were in two vehicles traveling from Davao City to Cagayan de Oro City when they noticed a checkpoint on the highway in Barangay Katipunan manned by armed men in what appeared to be military uniform around 6:16 a.m.
Sensing something wrong, the convoy stopped and was fired on by the gunmen, who Eastern Mindanao deputy commander Brigadier General Gilbert Gapay said were guerillas of the New People’s Army Guerrilla Front 53.
The PSG personnel engaged the rebels – estimated by Peralta to number a hundred – for an hour until responding troops from the 7th Infantry Battalion and Arakan police arrived.
Peralta identified the wounded PSG personnel as a Staff Sergeant Matumhay, Corporal Ayam Alia, Staff Sergeant Lisondor, Corporal Rodel Ledesma and Staff Sergeant Gerry Tursal. They were evacuated to Davao City after receiving first aid from a local clinic.
Killed was militiaman Ben Padia.
The rebels, who retreated towards the hinterlands of Barangay Gambudes took with them Rogelio Magno, described as an asset of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Arakan.
The information bureau of the Communist Party of the Philippines, quoting what it said were “initial reports” from the NPA’s 1st Pulang Bagani Company, gave this account:
“An unmarked armored vehicle did not heed (the) NPA checkpoint along Davao-Cotabato-Bukidnon highway. This forced the NPA to fire upon the tires to immobilize the vehicle. The passengers refused to open the doors. The Red fighters refrained from using firepower to force open the vehicle in consideration of possible civilian passengers. Because of this, the vehicle was allowed to pass. Later the NPA learned that the passengers belong to the Presidential Security Group.”