TAGUM CITY, Davao del Norte – The military on Monday said it had intercepted food supply intended for communist rebels in Compostela town, Compostela Valley.
Four sacks of rice transported on horseback by minors were seized by soldiers from the army’s 25th Infantry Battalion along a trail in Sitio Kandaga, Barangay Mangayon at around 11 a.m. Sunday, according to Captain Alberto Caber, spokesperson of the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command.
Caber told the INQUIRER by mobile phone that four boys, ages 12 to 17 years old, accompanied the two horses that transported the cargo.
“Based on our initial interview, the children said the sacks of rice were intended for the (New People’s Army) up there in Mangayon. A certain Frida Max, said to be between 70 to 80 years old, has ordered the said food supply from the town proper,” Caber said.
He said the seized staple and the teenage boys were brought by soldiers to Sitio Bongkilaton and turned over to the police for proper disposition.
Senior Supt. Camilo Cascolan, Compostela Valley police chief, said the children were turned over to the Compostela municipal social welfare and development office.
The military has deployed dozens of troops in Mangayon since last Oct. 4, following a brief clash with suspected rebels there.
Hundreds of residents, mostly from the Manobo-Matigsalog tribe, have fled and are now staying at the Compostela municipal gymnasium for fear of being caught in the crossfire.
Caber said the rebels were putting the children’s lives in danger by using them as porters for NPA logistics.
“It would only add to the misery of the people, particularly those minors. They could get killed if fighting (between soldiers and the NPAs) erupts,” the military spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, in Tagum City, Davao del Norte, police on Saturday seized over a hundred sticks of dynamites and other bomb-making components.
Two suspects, identified as Madelyn Cantabaco, 34, and Reynaldo Agpay, 22, were also arrested following the buy-bust operation at Purok Talisay, Magugpo East village, according to Supt. Solomon de Castilla, city police chief.
De Castilla said elements from Tagum police and the Southern Mindanao police intelligence division seized from the suspects a box containing some 145 dynamite sticks, three bags of ammonium nitrate, a compound present in fertilizers that could also be used for making explosives; fuel oil, over 50 meters long of safety fuse, receipts and P7,500-marked money.
The police official said lawmen also recovered an eight-meter long safety fuse and some 1,170 blasting caps from a nearby house owned by Marcelo Paguyan, a relative of Cantabaco’s.