ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/13 August) – Suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels disarmed a municipal mayor and his police bodyguard in Zamboanga del Sur early Tuesday, the police said.
Police identified the victims as Pitogo Mayor Richard Garban and PO3 Julito Hacotano.
Chief Insp. Ariel Huesca, Police Regional Office-9 information officer, said Garban, his bodyguard and three others were traveling to Pagadian City when at least 15 suspected NPAs clad in camouflage uniforms stopped them around 6:30 a.m. in front of Mati Elementary school in San Miguel town.
Although unharmed, the mayor and his companions were ordered to alight from the vehicle and disarmed, Huesca said.
Taken from the mayor’s possession were a Baby Armalite rifle, a caliber .45 pistol and a .9mm pistol while an M-16 Armalite rifle and a caliber .45 pistol were taken from his bodyguard, the police officer said.
They were then ordered to board their vehicle and to proceed to their destination.
Huesca said the suspected NPAs fled to the mountainous area of Barangay Ocapan and Calube in San Miguel.
The police and the military have launched pursuit operations against the rebels, he said.