“NPAs advancing to urban centers”
By ROGER M. BALANZA
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte yesterday said New People’s Army rebels are bringing their offensive operations closer to urban centers, but said he is not taking back his post as chair of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) despite the threat.
This plan was bared by intelligence recovered by military that was given to me, Duterte told DXAB radio in Davao City yesterday morning. He was interviewed through mobile phone by anchorman Stephen Manangan , while waiting for his flight to Manila at the Davao airport..
Duterte admitted Davao City is facing several threats: renewed NPA activities in the outskirts of the city, the abduction by rebels of retired MSgt. Jose Manero in Calinan, Davao City and the rebel attacks on barangay officials. “These are critical times,” said Duterte, who has filed a long leave from City Hall.
Duterte said his return as RPOC chair is not an insurance the renewed activity by rebels would be stopped. The mayor, who held the post for years, resigned after speculations he could be behind the December 29 killing of radioman Ferdie “Batman” Lintuan, a City Hall critic. “I resigned as a matter of principle,” said Duterte. “I did what I think was right,” he said.
The mayor said while he had contacts with the leadership of the communist movement, he is not sure he would be in position to influence them even if he gets back the RPOC chairmanship.
Communist rebels have become active in Davao City, based on recent encounters with the military in Toril District and in Paquibato District where a barangay captain was shot dead by rebels last month. The insurgency situation also has worsened in Compostela Valley, with military launching massive operations after a series of attacks on military and police and telecommunications facility by rebels.
He said he would try to help in the release of MSgt. Manero, brother of Norberto Manero, who had recently been freed from jail for the 1985 killing of Fr. Tulio Favali in Tulonan, North Cotabato. But he said the NPAs ultimately had to decide on the fate of the retired soldier seized by rebels from a banana farm in Calinan ten days ago. “They have their own rules,” he said. Manero Jr., also known as Kumander Bucay and headed the dreaded anti-communist Ilaga in the 1980s, arrived in Davao City on Tuesday to seek the mayor’s assistance for the release of his brother.
Duterte feared the Manero abduction by Leonardo Pitao alias Kumander Parago could lead to more trouble if retired trooper is not released. Manero Jr. has denied he is reviving the Ilaga to hunt down the rebels. But Duterte said there are still relatives of the Maneros who are active as paramilitary agents in North Cotabato. There will be repercussions if he is not released, he said.