ICRC convoy held briefly in Surigao Sur town for transporting wounded persons suspected to be rebels

CAGAYAN DE ORO  (MindaNews / 30 May) — Three vehicles of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were held briefly at a police and Army checkpoint in Lianga, Surigao del Sur on Friday for transporting two wounded persons whom authorities suspect to be rebels.

A press release from the Philippine National Police (PNP)  Surigao del Sur said the ICRC vehicles  — two Toyota Land Cruisers and an ambulance with Red Cross logo — were flagged down at the quarantine checkpoint in Purok 3, Barangay Payasan, Lianga, Surigao del Sur,

After being held briefly at a checkpoint in LIanga, Surigao del Sur, the ICRC convoy was escorted by military and police to Davao de Oro, the first province in the Davao region from the Caraga region, and from there escroted again to the Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City, Davao del Norte. Photo courtesy of PRO13 Caraga PULIS PIO

The police said the convoy was carrying two suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who were allegedly wounded in recent encounters with government troops in Andap Valley in Surigao del Sur.

“They were briefly detained and allowed later to proceed to the Davao Regional Medical Center (DRMC) in Tagum,” Capt. Al Anthony Pueblas, spokesperson of the Army 4th Infantry Division, said.

Pueblas identified the two wounded persons as Jea Angeles Perez, 22, single, resident of Purok 4, Brgy Puyat, Carmen, Surigao del Sur with gunshot wound on her right leg and Noel Dadang, 32, married, with no known address, with gunshot wound on his left rib and parietal area.

Pueblas said the ICRC team evacuated the patients from Barangay Janipaan, San Agustin town, a known NPA bailiwick in Surigao del Sur.

Humanitarian purposes

ICRC Philippine spokesperson Allison Lopez confirmed their team and several Philippine Red Cross humanitarian workers were stopped at the checkpoint in Lianga town last Friday.

Lopez said the soldiers and policemen later allowed the humanitarian workers to pass after consulting with their senior officers.

She explained that in order to facilitate safe passage, the ICRC and the Red Cross informed the Army and police before they transported the two wounded persons en route to the Davao Regional Medical Center (DRMC) in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

“The ICRC or Philippine Red Cross will not interfere with arrests by the authorities, but we will ensure that the patient receives medical treatment,” Lopez said.

The medical evacuation, she added,  was carried out strictly for humanitarian purposes.

Humanitarian workers and police officers at the checkpoint in Lianga, Surigao del Sur on Friday, 29 May 2020. Photo courtesy of PRO13 Caraga PULIS PIO

Pueblas said after inspecting the ICRC convoy, the policemen and soldiers from the Army 9th Special Forces Company allowed the ICRC team to proceed to their destination – the Davao Regional Medical Center  (DRMC) in  Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

“PNP and the Army followed them all the way to Monkayo town in Davao de Oro where other units waited for them,” Pueblas said

Davao de Oro in the Davao region shares a boundary with Agusan del Sur which is located in the Caraga region. Surigao del Sur is a member-province of Caraga.

Pueblas said the patients are now being treated at the DRMC where policemen are posted outside their rooms. (Froilan Gallardo / Mindanews)