Fierce fighting on after PSG ambush
By Edwin O. Fernandez
COTABATO CITY (Philippines News Agency) — Heavy fighting continued in the hinterlands of Arakan, North Cotabato following the ambush by communist rebels against a convoy of President Duterte’s security personnel in Davao-Bukidnon highway Wednesday morning, police said.
Supt. Romeo Galgo, speaking for the Police Regional office in the Soccsksargen Region, said heavy firefight is still going on in the vicinity of Sitio Sallab, Barangay Napalico, Arakan, North Cohabite as of posting after joint elements of Arakan police, 39th Infantry Battalion troops and militiamen encountered about 100 New Peoples’ Army responsible in the ambush.
Galgo, quoting a report from North Cotabato police provincial office and Arakan police, said the two groups of communist rebels under the command of Commander Jayco and Commander Bobby clashed with government forces who served as blocking force after the rebels ambush members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) along portion of the Davao-Bukdinon highway in Barangay Katipunan, Arakan, North Cotabato at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.
“We have no report about casualties from both sides yet,” Galgo said.
At around 6:30 a.m. a two-vehicle convoy of PSG personnel composed of white Ford F-150 and Black Nissan Patrol was heading toward Cagayan de Oro City from Davao City.
The convoy was led by T/Sgt. Ferbello Galleno. As they approached the village, they noticed men in fatigue uniform manning a checkpoint with Task Force Davao signage.
Senior Supt. Emmanuel Peralta, North Cotabato police director, said the PSG personnel noticed something wrong with the men in uniform with 3rd Infantry Battalion patches and did not stop.
Quoting witnesses in Barangay Katipunan highway, Peralta said the Nissan Patrol lead car hit the road signage and speed away. It was then that the NPAs, numbering about 30 who positioned on both sides of highway lining along the drainage canal, to opened fire using high powered guns.
The second vehicle, the bullet proof Ford F-150, sustained most of the bullets fired by the rebels.
The PSG personnel managed to return fire, forcing the ambushers to fled, using two huge double-tire jeep toward Barangay Napaliko, Arakan, North Cotabato where they encountered government blocking forces.
In Manila, PSG spokesperson Lt. Col. Mike Aquino said only four PSG personnel were injured and it was the presidential security that opened fire first.
Aquino said Wednesday’s incident was not an NPA ambush as it was their personnel who fired first at the suspicious-looking armed men in lousy military uniforms. (PNA)