DAVAO CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – A military report said a group of civilians was snatched by an armed group in the mountains of Maco in Compostela Valley on Friday afternoon, May 30.
Capt Ernest Carolina, spokesperson of the military's 10th Infantry Division, said only 5 people were taken captive by the armed men and not 6 as reported earlier.
He added that two employees from the municipal environment and natural resources office and a village councilor were with the group during the incident but were immediately released by the armed men.
"The other companions were immediately released but their cellphones were confiscated," Carolina said.
The local government is presently negotiating for the release of the captives.
Sources from the NPA said the relatives of the captives should not worry because they are safe and well-fed.
Captain Alberto Caber, public affairs chief of the military's Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), said the subcontractors for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) were conducting a validation and survey of the National Greening Program in Barangay New Leyte when they were seized by the armed men at around 2 pm.
The local police force immediately responded and are now conducting an investigation. Soldiers from the 1001st Infantry Brigade joined the police in the pursuit operations. The local government of Maco has directed the local officials of Barangay New Leyte to investigate the incident.
"A crisis committee headed by Mayor Alvera Rimando is currently in the area to confirm reports and negotiate for possible release," said 1001st Infantry Brigade commander Col. Elmer Quiros.
Eastmincom commander Lt. Gen. Ricardo Rainier Cruz III said he already directed military unit commanders in Compostela Valley to provide support in locating the victims. Their families have requested that their names not be disclosed for security reasons.
"Our primary concern is for the safe release of the civilians," Cruz said. – Rappler.com