Suspected NPA rebels swoop down on PCG detachment in CamSur town
NAGA CITY – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Bicol region went on heightened alert after suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels swooped down on a single-manned PCG detachment in the tourist town of Caramoan in Camarines Sur on Tuesday morning and took a high powered firearm and several radio equipment.
Lt. Archie Hicban, PCG-Bicol operations officer and spokesman, condemned the attack by suspected communist rebels, considering that the PCG is a civilian agency with the mandate of maintaining maritime safety and security in all ports across the country.
Hicban said only one personnel, Seaman Second PCG Juan Miguel Rabago, was manning the PCG detachment during the attack as its nine other personnel were at that time conducting water and search training at Gota Beach, also in Caramoan town.
PCG, an armed service under the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), is involved in search and rescue operations during storms and other sea disasters. It primarily maintains security in all ports across the country and conducts marine environmental protection.
Senior Supt. Walfredo Fornillos, acting provincial director of Camarines Sur, said in a separate phone interview that Rabago was taken by surprise and disarmed before he could react to the 10 a.m. raid by the suspected rebels in civilian clothes who came on board two motorized boats.
Fornillos said about eight NPA rebels accosted Rabago at gunpoint and then ransacked the detachment located at the port village of Guijalo and took with them an M16 rifle, a base radio, 2 handheld radio units, personal file and assorted uniforms.
Fornillos said about 20 other rebels were on the two motorized boats and acted as blocking force.
The group peppered with bullets the Coast Guard speed boat anchored close to the detachment on Guijalo, which was located about 8 km from the Caramoan town proper, as they fled on board the same boats heading for still undetermined direction, Fornillos said.
The Caramoan Peninsula, located in the northeastern tip of Camarines Sur about 110 km east of Naga City, is a famous tourist destination in the province. It can be reached by, first, taking a one-and-a-half-hour land trip from Naga City to the Sabang Port in the town of San Jose, Camarines Sur. It takes another one and half hours by boat from Sabang to the Guijalo port, the main entry point to the ten-island town world renowned for being the location of several editions of the internationally syndicated reality show “Survivor.”
Caramoan first gained worldwide attention when it was used by Koh-Lanta, the French version of Survivor, as its location in 2008. It later hosted the filming of the Survivors versions of Serbia (2009 and 2010), Israel (2009, 2010, 2011), Bulgaria (2009), Sweden (2010), India (2011), and the American version (seasons 25 and 26 in 2012).
To avoid similar attacks in the future, the PCG directed all units to closely coordinate with the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army for intelligence exchange, Hicban said.
“We have to strengthen and intensify our intelligence network by closely working with the police and the Army,” he said.
Hicban said in 2010, a similar attack on a PCG detachment was also staged by NPA rebels at the Matnog Port in Sorsogon, where one PCG personnel was killed.
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