Surigao Norte cops on red alert for NPA foundation, local poll campaign season

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/ 23 March)—The Surigao del Norte Police Provincial Office has placed its units on red alert ahead of the 44th founding anniversary of the New People’s Army (NPA) on March 29.

Senior Supt. Roel Obusan, provincial police director, said the heightened security alert in the area “was meant to thwart threats from the NPA rebels and other lawless elements.”

Obusan said the provincial police command is continuously implementing security defense protocols particularly on vital installations and soft targets such as isolated and less fortified police and military outposts.

He said the intensified security measure includes “heightened intelligence, target hardening and incident management.”

The NPA rebels are known to operate in Surigao del Norte, a province that hosts several foreign-backed large mining companies.

On October 3, 2011, around 200 communist guerrillas separately attacked three mining companies—Taganito Mining Corp., Platinum Group Mining Corp. and TH PAL Mining Corp— in a span of three hours in the area.

The rebels reportedly seized 32 units of 9mm pistols and burned two barges and several heavy equipment like dump trucks and backhoes. reported then that the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo placed the damage to properties from $1 billion to S1.5 billion.

Aside from the NPA anniversary, Obusan said the heightened security alert was in line with the May 13 midterm national and local elections.

The local election campaign period was supposed to start on March 29 but the Commission on Elections (Comelec) moved the date to March 30.

March 29 falls on Good Friday, a holiday.

With the forthcoming polls, Obusan said the provincial police force is also intensifying their checkpoints for the Comelec gun ban implementation.

The policemen are also intensifying the monitoring of possible threats that could disrupt the campaign period, he said.

These security measures are continuously being strengthened to uphold the law and maintain peace and order, and to ensure that no threats can cause disorder not just in the province but in the whole country as well, Obusan said. (Roel Catoto/MindaNews)