The CPP denied any intention of killing the Presidential Security Group (PSG) riding the convoy of two vans which passed by their check point.
In their Twitter account, the CPP stated that:
"Based on initial reports from the 1st Pulang Bagani Company: an unmarked armored vehicle did not heed (the) NPA checkpoint along Davao-Cotabato-Bukidnon highway. This forced the NPA to fire upon the tires to immobilize the vehicle. The passengers refused to open the doors. The Red fighters refrained from using firepower to force open the vehicle in consideration of possible civilian passengers. Because of this, the vehicle was allowed to pass. Later on, the NPa learned that the passengers belonged to the Presidential Security Group."
The CPP felt the need to explain their side to oppose the previous reports stating that they intentionally ambushed the convoy of the PSG.
|Photo from ABS-CBN|
The PSGs were traveling to Cagayan de Oro.
According to Col. Aquino, the spokesperson of the PSG, they encountered 50 armed NPA members dressed in army uniforms.
"May nakitaan na nagpapanggap sa check point, Task Force Davao pa ang nakalagay. Alam mo naman itong gropo na ito mapagpanggap sila. Noong na-detect ng tropa na 'di sila totoong sundalo, doon nagkaputukan," Col. Aquino told the reporters.
"Nu'ung napansin ng pangalawang sasakyan na hindi sila totoong sundalo, pinaputukan na ng tropa natin hanggang sa nagka-engkwentro na," Col. Aquino added.
During the firefight, one member of the Citizen Army Fighter Geographical Unit, identified as Benjamin Pandia, was shot dead while five other PSGs were wounded and sent to hospitals to be taken care of.
Benjamin Pandia reported to have mistaken the NPA members for military troops, thus he went near them and introduced himself as member of the CAFGU. Upon realizing that the "soldiers" in the check point were not actually government troops, the firefight started.
The PSG spokesperson Col. Aquino believed that the incident was an encounter, not just an ambush, intentionally to hurt or even kill the PSGs.
Likewise, North Cotabato police provincial director Sr. Supt. Emmanuel Peralta said in an interview with ANC on Wednesday noon that he also suspects that the incident was planned by the NPA. He added that after what happened, government troops will intensify its operations against the said rebel group.
"The NPAs when they conduct roadblock or checkpoint, they are spotting any government vehicle to ambush and I believe this is what happened this morning," Sr. Supt. Peralta said.
The incident happened after President Duterte ordered that the government will not resume formal peace talks with the Communist Part of the Philippines, unless its rebel members stop attacking members of government troops in Mindanao.
Moreover, the attack also happened after the Philippine National Police released information that the NPA plans to attack the Davao region.