HARASSMENT HIT. The Surigao del Sur Police Provincial Office (SDSPPO) criticizes the New People’s Army (NPA) for harassing and intimidating civilians when they blocked a portion of the national highway Thursday morning (Feb. 10, 2022) in Sitio Lubcon, Barangay Mabahin, Cortes, Surigao del Sur. The SDSPPO said the highway was cleared at around 9:00 a.m. Thursday after the rebels dispersed in different directions. (Photo grabbed from SDSPPO FB Page)

BUTUAN CITY – The New People’s Army (NPA) was slammed for blocking a national highway and threatening residents and travelers in Cortes, Surigao del Sur on Thursday.

In a phone interview, Col. Joseph Boquiren, director of Surigao del Sur Police Provincial Office (SDSPPO), said the NPA caused terror and distress in the area when an undetermined number of rebels blocked a portion of the national highway in Sitio Lubcon, Barangay Mabahin, Cortes town early Thursday morning.

“That was a plain show of force and a terroristic act as they sow fear among the residents in the area. Some motorists, including employees of government and private offices who happened to pass in that portion of the highway, were flagged down and threatened by the rebels,” Boquiren said.

He added that the rebels also raided and ransacked the store and house of a retired Army officer situated near the area where they blocked the highway.

The ransacking incident is still being investigated by the personnel of Cortes municipal police station, he added.

"We condemn the NPA rebels for their terroristic acts and sowing fear among the civilians in the area," Boquiren said.

He also identified the leader of the NPA rebels who led the harassment as Joel Maghinay alias Nico of NPA Guerrilla Front 30, North Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee.

“As of 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, the highway was cleared as the rebels dispersed to different directions,” Boquiren said.

He added that an alert memorandum has been forwarded to all police units in the province to intensify security measures and to coordinate with the Armed Forces of the Philippines for follow-up operations.

Boquiren said they will file appropriate criminal charges against the NPA rebels and their leaders.

The Communist Party of the Philippine-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

The National Democratic Front has also been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the Anti-Terrorism Council on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA created in April 1973. (PNA)