By Martin Sadongdong
Joint police and military forces thwarted an attack by suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) at a private farm in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon Tuesday evening.
Police Lieutenant Colonel Duphar Chris Cuaresma, chief of Manolo Fortich Municipal Police Station, said they received a tip from a concerned citizen about the presence of multiple heavily-armed NPA suspects at Sitio Aurora, Barangay Santo Nino around 11 p.m.
“Joint PNP [Philippine National Police] and AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] troops immediately responded. A few minutes later, [a] firefight ensued when the NPA harrased [a] local CAFGU [Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit] detachment in the area,” Cuaresma said.
Cuaresma said no one was hurt in the gunfight as the suspects immediately backed off.
According to the Manolo Fortich police chief, the suspects were harassing an owner of a private farm in the town to extort money from them.
“It’s supposed to be a scare and extort tactic targeting a palm oil plantation owner in Manolo Fortich,” Cuaresma said.
The police have recovered various fired cartridge cases from caliber .45 pistols, AK-47 and M-16 assault rifles at the scene of the incident.
Before they left, the retreating suspects burned down two L300 vans, an elf truck, a pick-up truck, and two motorcycles, police noted.
The police have conducted pursuit and clearing operations to track down the suspects.