Police have deployed intelligence personnel to track down six merchants who were reported missing, and believed to be abducted by New People’s Army (NPA) members, in Davao City.

“Andun ‘yung intelligence operatives namin sa Paquibato, in coordination with the Army, unang-una to confirm kung grupo ba talaga ni commander Parago ‘yung perpetrators, at the same time kinukuha din namin ang background ng anim na victims kung bakit sila inabduct,” Southern Mindanao regional police spokesman Supt. Jose Carumba said in a phone interview.

Authorities first heard of the alleged abduction two weeks ago, but were only able to “confirm” it Tuesday, when some of the merchants’ relatives sought Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s help, Carumba said.

The missing men, all from Misamis Oriental, went to Paquibato district to sell foam beds and were supposed to return home on August 18, according to the regional police spokesman.

“Ayon na rin sa relatives, nakakuha sila ng information na ‘yung mga kamag-anak nila ay hinarang ng mga armado… allegedly NPA pero hindi pa tayo nakakasigurado,” Carumba said.

Paquibato’s mountainous boundaries with Caraga region are known as “rebel-infested” areas, he said.

The NPA’s Pulang Bagani Command, led by Leoncio Pitao alias commander Parago, is said to be operating in those areas. (John Roson)

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