LEGAZPI CITY – Four civilians were wounded, including a retired government official and a minor, when hit with shrapnels from an anti-personnel mine (APM) that exploded, planted by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels along an upland village road here on Sunday, a Philippine Army (PA) report said on Monday.
Capt. Ronnel Cabagnan, head of the Civil-Military Operations of the Army's 31st Infantry Battalion, identified the victims as Romeo, 38, and Visitacion, 40, both surnamed Mariscotes, an 11-year-old girl, and lawyer Merda Paterson, a retired Ombudsman investigator.
The victims were on board a car that was negotiating the road near the Delta Homes subdivision in the sub-village of Tico-Tico in Barangay Homapon when the explosion occurred at around 10 a.m. They were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of shrapnel wounds.
More than seven hours earlier, a Globe cell site in the village was set on fire by the same group of NPA rebels that planted the APM along the road, the military report said.
Cabagnan said the torching of the cell site happened at around 2:30 a.m.
According to villagers, they sighted a group of still unidentified people roaming around the Globe facility before the fire broke out.
Apparently, the rebels poured gasoline at the cabinet that houses three rectifiers, micro antenna, and other equipment at the cell site.
Capt. John Paul Belleza, chief of the public affairs office of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division (9ID), in a phone interview, said the incident was an NPA tactic to step up their extortion activities and a diversionary strategy by setting up APM offensive against military and police responders.
Meanwhile, the 31st Infantry Battalion (31IB) condemned the attack perpetrated by the rebel group.
“Ang naturang panununog at pagpasabog ng mga teroristang NPA ay isang tahasang paglabag sa Comprehensive Agreement on Respect to Human Rights and International Law. (The torching and explosion acts done by the NPA are violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect to Human Rights and International Law)," Lt. Col. Eric Culvera, 31IB commander, said in a statement.
He said he ordered the Army troops to continue conducting security operations to maintain peace and order in the community and make sure that NPAs will not harm other civilians.
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) - NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)