Official: missing Army officer now back at HQ

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/04 December) – The Army officer who was reported missing after a group of alleged New People Army (NPA) rebels intercepted and disarmed a six-man intelligence group Saturday morning in Zamboanga Sibugay province is now in safe hands, a military official today said.

Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang, spokesperson of the Armed Forces’ Western Mindanao Command said Major Ramon Torres, the intelligence officer of the Army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade, has “escaped and evaded the armed group and was able to proceed to a detachment” several hours after the incident.

Cabangbang said Torres, who suffered fracture, has returned to the Army brigade headquarters in Ipil town in Zamboanga Sibugay.

Torres and five others, including a junior officer, were bound for Sitio Balabag, Barangay Depore, Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur to verify reports of rampant extortion activities by the NPA.

But upon reaching Sitio Mahayahay, Guinoman village, Diplahan town in Zamboanga Sibugay, at past 7 a.m. Saturday, they were intercepted, disarmed and held for questioning by a group of rebels.

Torres’ companions were released hours after they were disarmed by the rebels.

The rebels burned the Mitsubishi Strada pickup used by the soldiers.

The vehicle was reportedly owned by the TVI Resources Development (TVIRD), a mining firm operating in Bayog. (MindaNews)