A band of New People’s Army (NPA) members abducted a soldier and a policeman while conducting a “checkpoint” in Laak, Compostela Valley, on Thursday, a military official said.

Maj. Jacob Thaddeus Obligado, head of the Army’s 10th Civil Military Operations Battalion, identified the abducted soldier as Pfc. Jezreel Culango and the policeman, PO1 Ruel Pasion.

The two were abducted by members of the NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Committee’s Front 34, who conducted a checkpoint in Sitio Mangob, Brgy. Imelda, around 9 a.m., Obligado said in a text message late Thursday night.

Culango, based in Brgy. Sawata, San Isidro, Davao del Norte, was on his way to visit his girlfriend in Brgy. Mangloy when he was seized, Obligado said.

Pasion, assigned at the San Isidro Police Station, also happened to pass by the checkpoint when he was abducted, according to the military official.

The rebels, of whom 12 were seen sporting military attires and 18 in civilian clothes, were last seen heading towards Sitio Tugpahan, Brgy. Imelda, along with their captives, Obligado said.

Police and military personnel are were sent to pursue the rebels.

The abduction came just two days after the government and Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) ended an “extended” holiday ceasefire.

On Thursday, the CPP also warned of more offensives by the NPA, in response to new Armed Forces chief of staff Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista’s pronouncement to make insurgency “irrelevant” during his term.

“The New People’s Army continues to grow in number and in terms of firepower… Over the next few years, the NPA and the people’s militias will be able to initiate more frequent and widespread tactical offensives at the front, regional, inter-regional and national levels,” the CPP’s information bureau said in a statement.

“General Bautista cannot stop the momentum of growth of the New People’s Army,” it added.

Bautista, who is credited for the military’s current counter-insurgency plan “Bayanihan,” took over as AFP chief of staff on Thursday. (John Roson)

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