CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 9 May) – Suspected communist rebels clashed today with a team of Philippine Marines escorting a group of teachers carrying precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines in a hinterland village just two kilometers away from where Mayor Ruthie Guingona was ambushed recently in Gingoog City, the military said.
Meanwhile, in Kitaotao, Bukidnon, an Army team that went ahead of the teachers carrying several PCOS machines engaged suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in a 15-minute firefight in Barangay Pagan also Thursday morning.
Maj. Leo Bongosia, public information officer of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said the two incidents came as the 4ID prepares for providing the security of teachers who will be manning the polling places on election day on Monday.
“Our troops were doing their election duties in bringing the BEIs (board of election inspectors) and PCOS machines to their respective polling places when these incidents happened,” he said.
Bongosia said the Gingoog clash took place in Barangay Samay. “The rebels just allowed the BEIs and teachers to pass before they engaged the Marines, who were right behind,” Bongosia said.
Barangay Samay is located just two kilometers from Barangay Capitulangan, where Mayor Guingona’s party was ambushed last April 20. Two of her aides died in the ambush.
The ambush of the mayor, wife of former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, prompted President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to deploy a battalion of the elite Philippine Marines in Gingoog to run after the NPA rebels.
In the Kitaotao clash, Bongosia said no one was hurt but because of the incident, the PCOS machines were not delivered to Barangay Pagan.