FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City— The military may no longer recognize the tourist town of Sagada in Mt. Province as a peace zone because it has become a staging area for rebel attacks, the head of the Northern Luzon Command said here on Saturday.
Maj. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. said he had scheduled talks with Mt. Province Gov. Leonardo Mayaen about the peace zone status of Sagada town, where police and soldiers conducted air strikes on Aug. 30 to capture a New People’s Army (NPA) camp near Barangay (village) Aguid there.
The strikes followed an
Aug. 29 clash between police and rebel forces where two police officers were hurt.
“Sagada cannot be treated anymore as a peace zone because the NPA made it a training ground and a staging area to ambush our troops,” Catapang told the Inquirer at the Philippine Military Academy here.
He said rebel attacks had become aggressive. On June 28, the rebels attacked 95 police officers, killing one of them, as they jogged in Sitio Am-o in Tadian town in Mt. Province.
The officers were taking part in a special counterinsurgency training when the rebels attacked them.
Catapang said he had issued orders to track down and arrest rebels operating in Northern Luzon, believing the military could clear these provinces of rebel presence before the year ends.
Sagada was declared a peace zone in 1989.
Outlying villages near Aguid protested the air strikes, saying these violated the peace zone declaration. Vincent Cabreza, with a report from Kimberlie Quitasol, Inquirer Northern Luzon