PSG convoy ambushed in Cotabato

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 19 2017 08:37 AM | Updated as of Jul 19 2017 01:42 PM

Authorities rush wounded Presidential Security Group members to Calinan, Davao City after an ambush in Arakan town, Cotabato early Wednesday. Clarabelle Cornelio, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE 4) - Suspected New People's Army (NPA) members ambushed a convoy of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) in Arakan town, Cotabato early Wednesday. 

Ten PSG members were traveling to Cagayan de Oro City on board 2 vehicles when they encountered the suspected rebels who set up a checkpoint in the boundary of Arakan and Davao City, said PSG spokesperson Col. Mike Aquino. 

The gunmen, numbering about 50, were reportedly wearing military uniforms. 

"May nakitaan na nagpapanggap sa check point, Task Force Davao pa ang nakalagay. Alam mo naman itong grupo na ito mapagpanggap sila. Noong na-detect ng tropa na 'di sila totoong sundalo, doon nagkaputukan," Aquino told reporters. 
 
The NPA eventually withdrew and shot dead a member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit, identified as Benjamin Pandia. 

Pandia reportedly introduced himself as a CAFGU member to the rebels after mistaking them for soldiers. 

The clash also left 5 PSG members wounded. Three of them will be flown to Davao City for treatment. 

Wounded PSG members wait for a helicopter that will take them to Davao City. Claire Cornelio, ABS-CBN News

Speaking to ANC on Wednesday noon, North Cotabato police provincial director, Sr. Supt. Emmanuel Peralta said he suspects the NPA really planned the ambush. He said government forces will intensify operations against the armed rebel group.

"The NPAs when they conduct roadblock or checkpoint, they are spotting any government vehicle to check and ambush and I believe this is what happened this early morning," he said.

The reported ambush came just days after the Philippine National Police revealed intelligence reports that the NPA will allegedly mount an attack in Davao region. 

-- With Claire Cornelio and Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News