The abduction of 12 militiamen and two soldiers in Sibagat, Agusan Del Sur on Wednesday showed that the New People’s Army declaration of a holiday ceasefire was merely an act of deceit, Armed Forces chief Gen. Benjamin Madrigal said Wednesday night.
To prevent similar attacks, the AFP chief ordered all troops to be more alert and pro-active in their security measures.
In Wednesday’s raid, rebels also carted away high-powered weapons, ammunition, a radio and various supplies.
Madrigal said heavy rains prevented troops assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Battalion from detecting the incursion of some 50 NPA rebels who carried out the raid.
He also said a board of inquiry has been formed to investigate the incident at the Tubigon Patrol Base, a newly established detachment in the hinterlands of Sibagat.
AFP public affairs chief Col. Noel Detoyato said pursuit operations were ongoing.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the soldiers were clearly taken by surprise.
“They were taken without a firefight, so they were caught off guard,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino. “Maybe they were relaxing. We expect the patrol base to be manned and properly constructed so it can’t be overrun.”
He said the military was looking at the possible involvement of a militiaman with familial ties with the NPA.
In a statement, the Communist Party of the Philippines said the 14 prisoners of war would only be released if the military stops its offensives against the rebels.
“The 14 prisoners of war taken yesterday in Barangay New Tubigon, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur are being treated leniently,” the statement said.
Madrigal slammed the NPA, saying the abduction proved that the communists were not trustworthy. With PNA