GenSan steps up security due to NPA sightings in outskirts

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 26 July) – Army and police units here have stepped up their security operations due to sightings of suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels at a portion of the city’s boundary areas.

Col. Adonis Bajao, commander of the Army-led Joint Task Force GenSan, said Wednesday they launched joint operations with the city police in an undisclosed location on Tuesday night to counter the movements of the rebels.

Citing intelligence reports, he said the rebels are reportedly planning to launch attacks on various “soft targets” in the city.

He specifically cited police and Army checkpoints, detachments and key government installations.

“We have confirmed their movements but they are still outside the city’s boundary as of the moment,” Bajao said in a press conference.

The city is considered as under the operational jurisdiction of the NPA’s guerilla front 73, which is mainly based in South Cotabato province.

Other nearby units are the Front 71 in nearby Davao Occidental and Front 72 in Makilala, North Cotabato and Malungon, Sarangani areas.

Bajao said they earlier received threats of possible attacks by the NPA rebels after its leadership declared renewed offensives against government forces.

The NPA has launched major attacks in parts of the country, among them the ambush of a convoy of the Presidential Security Group in Arakan, North Cotabato along the Davao-Bukidnon-Cagayan de Oro Highway and police personnel in Negros Oriental.

Owing to this, the official said they have strengthened the area’s defense systems and to avert the planned attacks by the rebels.

He said they have also increased the number of deployed personnel in checkpoints at the city’s four main entry and exit points along the national highways.

The checkpoints are augmented personnel from the city police, the city’ civil security unit and barangay peacekeeping teams, he said.

Sr. Supt. Romeo Ruel Berango, acting city police director, assured that the city’s security situation remains under control despite the threats from the NPA rebels.

He said the “ongoing operation” at the city’s boundary area is aimed to stop them from entering the city proper.

Berango said the city’s eight police stations are currently under heightened alert as they are reportedly among the targets of the rebels.

He acknowledged that local police stations are considered vulnerable to NPA attacks as they were mainly established for operations against criminality.

“(But) we will do everything to protect and secure the city,” he said. (MindaNews)