GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/18 October) - The New People’s Army (NPA) released over the weekend two residents of Malapatan town in Sarangani Province who were seized by the group allegedly in relation to a local political rivalry spawned by the upcoming October 25 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.
Senior Supt. Florendo Quidilla, Sarangani police director, confirmed Monday that brothers Tony and Diel Maguan were freed by the rebel group over the weekend and have been reunited with their families.
He said they were still looking into the details of the release but said they initially received confirmation that the suspects were NPA rebels from the area.
“Our investigation is still ongoing but the circumstances showed that it was related to the heated election rivalry there,” he said in a radio interview.
A report from the Malapatan police station said the Maguans were forcibly taken by several heavily armed men while they were cutting trees last Thursday morning at a portion of Sitio Abungkod, Barangay Kinam in Malapatan.
Inspector Razid Lingcob, Malapatan police chief, said the suspects were allegedly members of Platoon “Mazda” of the NPA’s Guerrilla Front 71 led by a certain Ka Yoyong and Ka Harry.
He said the Maguans were known supporters of a candidate in Barangay Kinam who was facing another candidate allegedly endorsed by the rebel group.
Lingcob said their initial investigation showed that the incident was mainly aimed at destroying the candidacy of another candidate.
Quidilla said he already sent additional policemen to secure the village’s polling centers and coordinated with the Army’s 73rd Infantry Battalion for the conduct of security patrols in villages where the presence of the NPA rebels had been monitored.
“We intensified our intelligence monitoring and set up additional security checkpoints to avert possible plans of the (rebel) group to disrupt the upcoming elections,” he said.
As a result of the incident, he said Chief Supt. Gil Meneses, Region 12 police director, ordered all chiefs of police and members of the regional police’s directorial staff to continually inspect all established checkpoints and ensure that they remain fully operational on a 24-hour basis. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)