The owners of the two vehicles used in transporting suspected New People’s Army rebels, who were intercepted in a random checkpoint at the national highway of Brgy. Punao in San Carlos City, said they have nothing to do with the lawless group, police said.
The owners of Hyundai Starex van and Nissan Urban Escapade, whose identities are being withheld, surfaced Friday, to explain how their vehicles got into the possession of the suspected New People’s Army rebels, who engaged the military and police personnel manning a checkpoint in San Carlos City in a firefight.
Police investigations showed that the two vans were rented by two persons, whose identities have already been established.
Senior Supt. Allan Guisihan, provincial police director of Negros Occidental, yesterday said a conference will be held today at Camp Alfredo Montelibano Sr. in Bacolod City, to determine the extent of participation of the owners of the vehicles.
The encounter at the checkpoint Thursday last week caused slight injury to Army Cpl. Hernando Santos, and led to the capture of suspected NPA member identified as Japet Tuayon, who was also injured and was left behind by his fleeing comrades.
Guisihan said charges for illegal possession of firearms will be filed against Tuayon, who was taken by his military and police captors to the San Carlos District Hospital for treatment of his gunshot wounds.
The fleeing rebels, including an amazon, identified only as Richelle, had left behind Tuayon, an M-16 assault rifle, two luxury vans and 10 backpacks containing personal belongings and assorted food stuff, and sketches of the Libertad detachment in Escalante City that is occupied by 6th Regional Public Safety Battalion troopers.
Col. Oscar Lactao, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said he believes that the intercepted NPA rebels may have opted to move through the national highway, instead of the hinterlands, because of the pressure of military operations in the area.
Lactao added that the joint military and police operations have pre-empted whatever the NPA rebels were planning to do in northern Negros.
Army and police officials had earlier raised the possibility that they had foiled possible attacks against “soft targets”, including an ethanol plant, in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental that is about a kilometer away from the encounter site.*GPB