Philippines: Rebels make daring move, abduct town's deputy police chief

Abu Sayyaf group, Malaysia
Filipino soldiers stand near the bodies of members of Abu Sayyaf group, killed during a firefight with government soldiers, after they rescued two Indonesian hostages from Islamist militant captors, in Jolo, Sulu in southern Philippines, September 7, 2017 Reuters

Communist rebels have begun to make their presence felt again when they stormed Roxas town in North Cotabato province in the Philippines and abducted the town's deputy police chief.

Police authorities identified the abducted senior police officer as Inspector Menardo Cui. Cui was off-duty and was with his friends in a videoke bar when heavily armed rebels entered the bar and at gunpoint ordered the police officer to step into their vehicle.

Philippine soldiers and policemen have launched a joint search operation to rescue Cui from his abductors from North Cotabato, which is filled with communist rebels who are the members of New People's Army (NPA).

Supt. Bernard Tayong, the provincial police spokesperson said they are now mobilizing their intelligence team to get the identities of the abductors.

Moreover, Philippine Army officials earlier revealed that they are certain that the abductors are NPA guerrillas because NPA guerrillas are common in the area.

Army Capt. Siver Belvis, the spokesperson of the Army's 39th Infantry Brigade, said that they are now coordinating with the community elders in three municipalities in the province namely Magpet, Roxas and Arakan to help the government secure the release of the deputy police chief.

Community leaders in these areas are influential traditional leaders who have earned the respect of the communities including those observing the Maoist ideology.

The NPA is the oldest insurgency operating in Southeast Asia. Its political party, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), celebrated its 49th founding anniversary on December 26, 2016. The rebels reportedly have at least 4,500 armed men with thousands of supporters.

The Philippine government and the CPP's negotiating team, the National Democratic Front (NDF) earlier entered into peace dialogues but the fifth round of peace dialogues failed when the Philippine negotiating panel suspended the effort as the NPA rebels continued to attack military and police detachments.

As a result of the faltered peace talks, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte claimed the CPP-NPA to be terror organizations and warned that he would order NPA leaders arrested.