CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/28 September) – Elements of the Army Special Forces arrested a suspected ranking leader of the New People’s Army after a shootout along the national highway in Malaybalay City Sunday, a military official said.
But Col. Jesse Alvarez, commanding officer of the 403rd Infantry Brigade withheld the name of the alleged NPA leader pending tactical intelligence confirmation on her standing in the rebel group.
Alvarez said the driver who drove the Mazda Bongo truck carrying the woman was killed during the exchange of gunfire with the soldiers belonging to the Army 1st Special Forces Battalion.
A source said the driver who was identified only as a certain “Edwin” was the husband of the captured woman who is believed to be the regional medical officer of the NPA in Northern Mindanao.
Alvarez said found in the Bongo truck were a .45 caliber pistol with two spare magazines, documents, nine mobile phones, two power banks, a Samsung tablet, a fragmentation grenade, and P276,000 in cash.
He said the alleged rebel leader is now in the custody of the Philippine National Police in Malaybalay City.
“The police told us they would file a case of frustrated murder and illegal possession of firearms and explosives against the woman,” Alvarez told MindaNews.
He said another accomplice managed to escape barefoot from the pursuing soldiers.
One soldier was slightly wounded when he tried to seek cover but crashed into a boulder.
Alvarez said the soldiers were going to Maramag town, also in Bukidnon province but decided to stop along the highway in Barangay Cabangahan, Malaybalay City to urinate.
He said when the soldiers who were in uniform alighted from their civilian vehicle, a shot rang out from the Bongo truck that was parked 30 to 40 meters away.
Alvarez said there an exchange of gunfire ensued between the troops and the truck occupants. Later the soldiers found the driver slumped dead on his seat.
“The soldiers did not really know who the truck occupants were. They were shot and had to return fire,” he said. (MindaNews)