By Ben Serrano, PNA and U.S. News Agency / Asian
Some 200 suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels have kidnapped early Thursday four top officials of a gold ore mining firm operating in Rosario, Agusan del Sur.
Rosario police chief Senior Inspector Elizer S. Pido
identified the kidnapped victims as Christopher D. Ocite, operations manager of the Vivencio P. Ocite (VPO) Mining Enterprise and son of owner businessman Vivencio P. Ocite; VPO assistant operations manager Gani Altaya; Joel Jayuma, chief security operations officer of Jogons Security Agency guarding the mining office compound; and a still unidentified mining engineer.
Pido told the PNA the four officials were abducted around 5:30 a.m. Thursday at the mining firm’s site and depot office in Ridge Mountain in Barangay Bayugan 3, Rosario by suspected communist rebels disguised as members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) inspecting the mining area.
In his report to Caraga Police Regional Director Chief Supt. Reynaldo S. Rafal, Pido said all security guard personnel were disarmed and hogtied with the suspects carting away five shotguns and nine .45-caliber pistols.
“They then at gunpoint kidnapped Mr. Ocite and company and boarded Mr. Ocite’s own vehicle, a color grey Toyota Hi-Lux with plate number ZMW 908 and used it as their get-away vehicle on board the victims and fled towards east direction of Ridge Mountain, a mining area rich with gold ore deposits” Pido said.
Pido said Rafal directed him to coordinate with the AFP in the area to form a crisis team.
Reportedly, Ocite had many rivals, all moneyed, powerful and influential in the gold rich town of Rosario.
Rosario Mayor Jose B. Cuyos of Lakas-NUCD is a political rival of Ocite who ran for mayor in the May 2010 elections.
Running under Liberal Party, Ocite was defeated by Cuyos but was reportedly eyeing again to challenge Cuyos in the forthcoming May 2013 elections.
Cuyos own the biggest gold ore mining and processing plant, JBC Mining Company in Rosario, which is only few meters away from the national highway.
The gold processing plant of Cuyos, located near the national highway and populated areas has been the subject of criticisms in the past as plants, livestock including coconut trees were allegedly severely affected by its operations.
It was then subjected to investigations by environmental groups and NGOs, Agusan del Sur officials and the DENR but mining and processing activities continue.