The military on Saturday declared red alert over a large area in Mindanao to be able to respond to attacks by the New People’s Army (NPA) during the much-anticipated boxing match between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley.

Hours before and after the alert status was hoisted, NPA members have already carried out several attacks against government troops and mining firms.

The red alert, highest of three alert statuses in the military, took effect 12 a.m. in areas that include Sarangani, which Pacquiao represents in Congress, Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza, spokesman of the Army 10th’s Infantry Division, said in a phone interview.

Also affected are the key cities of General Santos and Davao, as well as South Cotabato, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, and Compostela Valley provinces, and two towns in Sultan Kudarat.

Just five hours since the red alert took effect, members of the NPA detonated a landmine against a military truck passing through Brgy. New Visayas in Mawab, Compostela Valley, but no soldier was hurt, Paniza said.

Several hours earlier, around 8 p.m. Friday, NPA members also burned two backhoes, two trucks, and a driller owned by Philco Mining Co. at Sitio Tagpura, Brgy. Camanlangan, in New Bataan.

Around 1 a.m., suspected rebels also disarmed security guards of Milagrosa Mining in Brgy. Saranga, Maragusan.

“As we have experienced before, pagka may laban si Pacquiao, ‘yung mga armadong grupo na NPA ay siya namang gumagawa niyan, parang ayaw ba nilang matahimik ang mga tao habang nanonood ng laban ni Pacquiao,” Paniza said.

Under the red alert status, all affected soldiers are required to be available for duty and respond to incidents.

Because of this, many of the 14,500 soldiers and militiamen guarding the 10th ID’s “areas of responsibility” will not be able to watch the fight of Pacquiao, a military reservist with the rank of lieutenant colonel, live on television, Paniza said.

“Pagka nag-replay na lang kami manonood, hindi na kami manonood ng live dahil red alert,” he said. (John Roson)

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