BACUAG, Surigao del Norte (MindaNews/15 Dec) – An improvised explosive device went off Saturday afternoon in Sitio Julilon, Barangay Dugsangon, causing damage to a patrol car of this municipality and the transfer of venue of the inaugural program of a road project graced by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles and other local officials. to a basketball court instead.
Not one of the six policemen on board the patrol car was injured.
Deles, along with provincial and municipal officials, were supposed to inaugurate the 6.37 kilometer road from Barangay Campo to Sitio Little Baguio in Barangay Payapag at 4 p.m. but the rites were moved to the Barangay Campo basketball court following the 2 p.m. ambush.
The P30-million project is funded by the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the national government’s “program and framework for peace and development.”
PAMANA projects are “implemented in areas affected by conflict and communities covered by existing peace agreements” and is deemed a “complementary track to peace negotiations.”
The patrol car, owned by the municipal police station, was conducting clearing operations when ambushed by alleged members of the New Peoples Army (NPA). The NPA has yet to issue a statement on the reported ambush.
Police Chief Inspector Rudy Ilandag, commander of the Public Safety Company of the Surigao del Norte Police Office said they were lucky that the command-detonated IED went off just two to three meters ahead of their car.
Ilandag, who was seated beside the driver, said they were shocked by the loud blast.
“We heard shots from the suspected rebels but we managed to return fire while we hurriedly escaped from the ambush zone of the rebels,” he told reporters.
Ilandag’s team was deployed to this area to augment security forces here.
Deles said “we know the NPA does not like government projects in their area like PAMANA,” but she added, “conflict areas should not left behind and that’s what we are trying to do.”
She said residents in the area say the road project is very important for them.
Lt. Col. Arsenio Sadural of the 30th Infantry Batallion said his men are conducting hot pursuit operations.
He said his troops had been securing the area particularly in the inner portions deemed critical areas or ambush sites.
“We been conducting patrol and soldiers in the area prior to the scheduled visit,” he said. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)