Military offers security escorts to DOH workers doing anti-polio vaccination in conflict areas

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 01 December) – The Philippine Army in Agusan del Norte has offered the Department of Health (DOH) in Caraga security escorts if its workers go to conflict areas for anti-polio vaccination and other health services, to avoid a repeat of what happened on Wednesday, November 27, when suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) attempted to ambush them.

Col. Maurito Licudine, commander of the Army 402 infantry brigade on Saturday said four armed members of the NPA tried to flag down a gray-colored Toyota Innova with nurses on board, in Sitio Zapanta, Barangay Kalipayan, Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte last Nov. 27.

Licudine said the nurses who worked for the Kitcharao town health office were returning home from a day-long polio vaccination in Zapanta Valley, a major conflict area for the government and the NPA.

“The driver told us he did not stop the car when he saw the four armed rebels in the middle of the road trying to stop them,” Licudine said.

In retaliation, Licudine said the rebels fired at the speeding Innova, hitting its windshield.

Licudine said the nurses identified as Ingrid Ramos Archinue, head nurse of the Kitcharao health office; midwife Jenifer Morales Veterbo and the unnamed driver were not hurt.

He said the Innova was traveling with a multi-cab full of volunteers.

Licudine said the police is now investigating the incident. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)