GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/03 May) — Army and police personnel recovered on Monday a cache of improvised high-powered explosives believed owned by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in a makeshift bunker in T’boli town in South Cotabato.
Lt. Col. Benjamin Leander, commanding officer of the 27th Infantry Battalion (IB), said Tuesday they discovered the bunker at around 5:30 a.m. in Sitio Tabudtud, Barangay New Dumangas in T’boli.
He said they found 19 explosives composed of 12 anti-personnel and seven anti-tank land mines.
“It’s a temporary storage area for the explosives and they (rebels) just retrieve them from there when needed,” he said in an interview over radio station dxKR.
The Army official said they located the bunker based on a tip from local residents who are already tired of the presence and activities of the NPA rebels.
The village is a known exit and entry point of NPA rebels based in the mountainous portions of T’boli.
NPA rebels had launched a number of attacks in the area in the past years, among them the raid on a police detachment, burning of several heavy equipment contracted by a company running a banana plantation, and the abduction of a member of the 27th IB.
The operation on Monday was joined by a police team carrying the arrest warrants of NPA leaders and members who were tagged as behind these attacks.
Some of the suspects, who were earlier spotted in the village, were able to escape prior to the operation.
Leander said they received reports that a number of residents of Sitio Tabudtud are sympathizers of the NPA and had been aware of the presence of the explosives.
He said the South Cotabato Provincial Police Office and the T’boli municipal police station are currently investigating the possible involvement of residents near the site and the owner of the lot in the establishment of the bunker.
“Some of them might have even helped the rebels in the establishment of the bunker so we’re looking at their liability as well,” he said.
Police are also determining whether the recovered explosives are part of a supposed plot by the NPA to disrupt the conduct of the coming May 9 general elections. (MindaNews)