PUERTO PRINCESA CITY (13-Dec-2012/PNA) – Joint police and military authorities here are investigating the claim by the New People’s Army (NPA) that its recent attack on the Municipal Police Station in Roxas, Palawan was because policemen raided their protected illegal gold panning operations in another part of the town last month.
In leaflets and circulars they distributed in the town shortly after they raided and killed a policeman in the local police station, the rebel group said the move of its armed members was a “reprisal” because police authorities swooped down and confiscated the tools and other equipment being used by small-time gold panning operators in Barangay Magara, Roxas.
The rebels claimed that “what the police did was equal to removing the life out of the poor” whose means of livelihood are the small income they can get out of panning gold.
The NPA also accused the municipal policemen of extorting money from the gold panning operators to allow them to continue their illegal small mining activities.
Chief Supt. Reynaldo Jagmis, Palawan Provincial Police director, who was in Roxas as of this writing, told the Philippine News Agency in a phone interview that they have included the claims in the other angles they are investigating for the attack.
“Yes, we are investigating those claims too. We are investigating all angles right now as our men and troops from the Marines (MBLT 4) continue their hot pursuit operation to bring those who are responsible for this to justice,” Jagmis said.
The other angle they are looking into is the possibility that the attack was perpetrated as a practicum of new recruits of the NPA, who might have been training in the province.
However, he said they need to verify this as they have not received any report that there is an ongoing rebel training in Palawan.
Meanwhile, in a video footage that was captured by a local television station, it showed the suspected rebels were in full military uniforms and carrying short and long firearms.
They sport crew cut hairstyles that resemble those of the Marines, and they appear to be men between 18-20 years old. They are reportedly part of the Bienvenido Valleder Group of the NPA operating in northern Palawan.
A policeman, identified as Senior Police Officer 2 Monsito Rabang, died when he refused to give his long firearm to the rebels. Unconfirmed reports claimed a total of eight assorted firearms were taken by the rebels from the police station.
It can be recalled that during the weekend, six members of the NPA torched a backhoe owned by Citi Nickel Mining and Development Corporation in Sofronio Española. They did not, however, hurt anyone. (PNA)