ELEMENTS of 58th Infantry Battalion caught a member of the New People’s Army during a pursuit operation in the hinterlands of Barangay Bulahan, Claveria Thursday.
Lt. Col. Ricky L Canatoy, commanding officer of the unit, said the operation came about after the rebels burned three trucks an a bus being used by Del Monte Philippines Inc. (DMPI) two days earlier.
Canatoy said the soldiers figured in a 15 minute encounter with the rebels who burned the vehicles and as the armed group was withdrawing, the soldiers eventually captured one of them.
The captured rebel, known only as a certain James, is a member of Sentro de Gravidad Edot, Sub-Regional Committee 1, North Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC).
James claimed his group burned the vehicles based on the order of Dionisio Micabalo alias Muling, secretary of NCMRC, because the company did not give in to their extortion demands.
He said the rebels have intensified their extortion activities because their resources have been depleted.
Seized from him was an anti-personnel mine and a caliber. 38 pistol from the suspect.
Major General Andres C Centino, commander of the 4th Infantry Division and the Joint Task Force Diamond (JTF-Diamond), said the rebels have become desperate that they have been attacking civilians to threaten them for failing to give in to their demands.
“We are strengthening our coordination with business firms so that this incident will not happen again. We need to work together to stop the extortion of the NPA and to protect their businesses from future attacks”, he said, adding that the unit will help the company in filing a criminal case against the rebels.