12 landmines seized in Compostela Valley
TAGUM CITY, Philippines – Soldiers and policemen manning a checkpoint in Pantukan, Compostela Valley intercepted a dump truck loaded with 12 improvised landmines late Wednesday, military and police officials said Thursday.
The driver of the white Fuso dump truck (RLG-737) identified as Oliver Bulosan, 35, was immediately placed under police custody and was being questioned at the Pantukan municipal police station, Major Jacob Obligado, 10th civil military operations commander, said.
Senior Inspector Gretchin Cinco, spokesperson of the Southern Mindanao police command based in Davao City told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by text that elements of the Pantukan police under and the Army’s 71st IB were conducting a regular checkpoint in Barangay Kingking when they intercepted the dump truck, registered under a Bonito Pido of Camarin, Caloocan City, at around 10:05 p.m.
Cinco said the driver was fidgety when asked what the dump truck cargo was.
“So the policemen and the soldiers started inspecting the vehicle. It turned out he had an illegal cargo,” Capt. Janaloden Sanggacala, 71st IB spokesperson, said.
Sanggacala said that based on initial investigation, the vehicle came from Davao Oriental.
Cinco said personnel from the Compostela Valley police explosive and ordnance disposal team (EODT) proceeded to Pantukan for examination and proper disposition of the seized explosives while charges of illegal possession of explosives were now being readied against the truck driver.
Obligado described the seized landmines as “detonation-ready.”
Obligado said the military suspected that the landmines, each measuring 7.5 inches in diameter, were owned by the New People’s Army (NPA).
He said the NPA had been actively using landmines against government troops and what the rebels considered as military targets.
“The seized bombs were larger and more powerful than those detonated (by the NPA) in Libay-libay, Maco,” Obligado said, referring to a landmine explosion in nearby Maco in February last year that killed three farmers hitching a ride on a military vehicle.
On April 28, a soldier was killed while seven others were wounded when a landmine exploded while government troops on a peace and development mission were in Mabini, Compostela Valley.
On March 5, two soldiers were also killed when they accidentally stepped on a landmine planted by NPA rebels in Barangay Buhay in Makilala, North Cotabato.
The military has decried the NPA’s use of landmines in its war with the government, saying it had been banned by international laws.
But the NPA defended its continued use of landmines, saying these were the command-detonated ones, which are allowed under the Geneva Protocol.
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