The spokesperson of the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division warned stakeholders to be on the look-out for fake checkpoints manned by rebel elements masquerading as army or Task Force Davao personnel along the highways.
“The real army or police checkpoints are located in lighted areas and are very visible with clear markings,” Army Capt. Ryan Batchar told the AFP-PNP press conference on Wednesday at the Royal Mandaya Hotel. He said army or police checkpoints provide for a forewarning advising motorists and commuters to slow down.
He added that almost always, checkpoints identified with government security forces are also marked by the presence of a parked vehicle.
Batchar said military or police personnel manning these checkpoints are distinguishable with their clear nameplates and communication equipment.
“If there is doubt, concerned commuters can always call us or Task Force Davao to verify,” he said.
On Wednesday morning, four Presidential Security Group personnel were wounded in an encounter with suspected elements of the rebel New People’s Army who set up a checkpoint in Arakan town, North Cotabato.
PSG spokesperson Lt. Col. Mike Aquino added that the seven earlier reported wounded in the 6:15 a.m. clash was based on their initial report.
The incident took place at Barangay Gambudes along the Davao-Arakan route.
Subsequent accounting and checking of personnel involved in the Arakan clash with an estimated 50 NPA fighters, allegedly conducting checkpoint operations in the vicinity, indicated that only four PSG troops were wounded, Aquino stressed.
He also clarified that Wednesday’s incident was not an NPA ambush as it was their personnel who fired first at the suspicious-looking band who were clad in military uniforms.
However, Aquino has no information on whether they inflicted any casualties on the rebels.
The PSG spokesperson also said that PSG personnel, aboard in two vehicles, were conducting an “admin movement” as part of the efforts to coordinate with other security personnel in the Cagayan De Oro area.
The engaged PSG troops just came from Davao, he added.
Aquino also declined to comment on whether the incident was part of the NPA’s effort to taunt President Rodrigo Duterte before his State of the Nation Address on July 24. (with PNA story)