The military and police raised the alert level in two Mindanao regions to thwart possible retaliatory attacks by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels following the death of their leader Jorge Madlos over the weekend.
Brigadier General Rolando Anduyan, police director for northern Mindanao, ordered all police units in the region to go on full alert and secure their offices and vital public installations.
“We anticipate that the rebels will still try to show their force, even though they don’t have it already. This is to show the public that they are still standing,” Lieutenant Colonel Michelle Olaivar, police spokesperson for northern Mindanao, said on Monday, November 1.
Olaivar said all police units, especially the stations, were given orders to prepare in anticipation of possible NPA offensives.
“We will not give them the slightest chance of being able to do that. We have to secure our police stations, and our camps,” Olaivar added.
The police, she said, would keep an eye on vital installations, public buildings, and places of convergence throughout northern Mindanao.
Major General Romeo Brawner Jr., commander of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, issued a similar order, stepping up the alert level in Northern Mindanao and neighboring Caraga, two Mindanao regions where soldiers have been battling several NPA fronts for decades.
Major Francisco Garello Jr., 4th ID spokesman, said Army units in the two regions were also directed to launch more military operations against communist rebels.
“We have been receiving useful information about the NPA from civilians and so, we will continue with our focused military operations without letup,” Garello told Rappler.
He said the military operations in the northern and northeastern Mindanao regions have been “heightened” following the death of Madlos.
Olaivar said the police have already been on alert even before the death of Madlos.
She said police have also deployed officers to address public safety concerns in time for All Saints’ and All Souls’ days because there were other threats.
Olaivar said that while many personnel of local police stations were deployed because of the two-day observance, police mobile forces were looking into concerns about possible attacks by threat groups in the aftermath of the death of Madlos.
The military claimed that soldiers killed the 72-year-old Madlos and an NPA medic, Eighfel Dela Peña, in an encounter in Sitio Gabunan, Barangay Dumalaguing, Impasug-ong, Bukidnon province, on Saturday, October 30.
The National Democratic Front (NDF) however said Madlos and his aide, both unarmed and traveling on a motorcycle to get medical treatment for the ailing rebel leader, were killed in what looked like an ambush on Friday night, October 29.
But the military earlier said soldiers found the bodies near M14 and KG9 rifles and ammunition, among others, after a 30-minute gun battle at around 11:30 am on Saturday. The alleged encounter was supposedly preceded by airstrikes hours earlier, a narrative that the NDF has challenged.
The military said Madlos was the commander and spokesman of the NPA National Operations Command, spokesman of the NDF in Mindanao, and a member of the Front’s central committee.
With a string of criminal cases that ranged from robbery, double homicide, double frustrated murder to multiple murder, he was the top most wanted NPA commander in the country, according to the military. – Rappler.com