By Joey Natividad
TIGAON, Camarines Sur, 03April2017 (BicolToday.com) – Tigaon policemen, in battle gears, Friday night flagged down a van full of young men, suspecting they were “rebels”, frisked and forced them to lie down on the pavement, and found out later they are members of a basketball team from Caramoan who had played a provincial inter-town basketball tournament in Nabua which is about 150 kilometers away.
The tale did not end here as an “honest mistake by Tigaon policemen”, when former Caramoan mayor Jun Cordial on Saturday voiced out his concern over local radio in Goa that he suspected the flagging incident that coerced and frightened the basketball players was an act of “political harassment”.
Ex-mayor Cordial, whose wife is the current Caramoan mayor, said over radio that he had severed his ties with the Fuentebellas, the political kingpin in the Partido district, and they had joined the Villafuerte camp. Cordial’s defection last January has hurt Representative Noli Fuentebella who controls Tigaon through his daughter Chiqui, the current Mayor.
As narrated, the basketball players were riding on a government van assigned to Caramoan risk-reduction and disaster management office, and they are the official players for the provincial inter-town basketball tournament, a sports fest organized by Governor Migz Villafuerte, the Fuentebella’s arch enemy. Tigaon did not join the provincial meet.
As reported, police and Army intelligence had gotten wind of a van, filled with 17 passengers, was proceeding to Caramoan, and did not stop at an Army checkpoint at barangay Mabalodbalod, this town.
Army and police personnel have been “on red alert” mode as the New People’s Army in Camarines Sur has just celebrated its 48th founding anniversary on Wednesday, March 29, and they are anticipating rebel offensive activities anytime within the week.
Suspecting they were rebels, police immediately set up a blocking chokepoint infront of the Tigaon municipal hall and waited for the suspicious van, which arrived a few minutes later.
According to reports, the hostile police action which forced the intercepted young men to lie down on the pavement for investigation had scared the peaceful neighborhood and commuters.
Later on, the young men were freed after police found out they were members of the basketball team who had played in Nabua that Friday for the provincial match, and that they were going home to Caramoan.
Cordial was not satisfied over the “honest mistake” committed by Tigaon police. He believed the intercept was “planned” as there were the sudden presence of SWAT teams when the van was flagged down.
The Mabalodbalod Army checkpoint, where the van had failed to stop for identification, and the municipal hall, where the road block was set up that night, was only a 7- minute drive.
Cordial would not believe heavily-armed SWAT teams and blocking vehicles could be mobilized within a few minute notice. [BicolToday.com]