Troops on full alert vs NPA movements in South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat

January 3, 2012 10:14 am 

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Jan. 2 – Government troops in South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat provinces have intensified their security operations due to threats of renewed attacks by communist rebels on mining companies based in those areas.

Lt. Col. Alexis Noel Bravo, commander of the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion, said Monday they received intelligence reports that local New People’s Army (NPA) units were plotting to launch attacks on facilities of mining companies, specifically those owned by Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) based in Tampakan, South Cotabato.

“They’ve been making some movements in the area, taking advantage of the ongoing suspension of military operations or SOMO,” he said.

Bravo said they initially deployed additional troops in Tampakan and in Columbio town in Sultan Kudarat to secure several villages that host some facilities of SMI.

On New Year’s Day in 2008, NPA guerrillas stormed the base camp of SMI in the mountain village of Tablu in Tampakan and burned some P12 million worth of the company equipment and facilities.

In January the following year, NPA rebels raided the Tampakan police station downtown, which resulted in the wounding of three policemen and a civilian.

Since then, the NPA rebels have warned future offensives against SMI if it would not pull out its venture also straddling the towns of Columbio in Sultan Kudarat, Kiblawan in Davao del Sur and Malungon in Sarangani.

SMI is controlled by Xstrata Copper, the world’s fourth largest copper producer, with Australian firm Indophil Resources NL as the junior equity partner.

Despite the threats, Bravo said they have not yet recorded any NPA-led harassment or attack in the area so far.

“Our intensified operations may have limited their movements. We’ll sustain our heightened alert status to ensure that no untoward incident will happen in the area,” he added. (PNA) RMA/scs/AVE/AC

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