CEBU (Updated) -- Suspected members of the communist New People's Army (NPA) raided Sunday, June 18, the municipal police station of Maasin in Iloilo province.
Chief Inspector Aaron Palomo, public information officer (PIO) of Philippine National Police Iloilo Provincial Office, said 50 to 70 armed men swooped down on the station at about 11 a.m. Sunday.
No one was hurt in the incident, but the rebels carted away four Glock pistols and nine Armalite rifles, Palomo said in a telephone interview.
In a tweet, the Communist Party of the Philippines information bureau said NPA-Panay took M16 rifles and four pistols during the raid, which was carried out at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
Palomo said the rebels also took the patrol car, but later abandoned this in the neighboring town of Alimodian.
"We have recovered the patrol car as well as the truck used by the rebels. Follow-up operations are ongoing," Palomo said.
Prior to the raid, two suspected rebels went inside the station to supposedly have an incident recorded in the police blotter.
While the duty officer was interviewing them, a truck full of armed men arrived at the station and the two rebels inside announced a raid. By then, the rebels have blocked major roads leading to the station.
"It happened fast. They announced a raid, handcuffed our men, took their firearms and left. No one was injured," Palomo said, adding that five policemen were in the station at that time.
Maasin is a fourth-class town situated about 28 kilometers west of Iloilo City, the capital of Iloilo province.
Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog placed the entire city on Sunday in full alert status as a precautionary measure shortly after the NPA raid in Maasin.
"All barangay captains and barangay officials together with their barangay tanods and CVOs (civilian volunteer organizations) shall strictly monitor their respective barangays and report any suspicious movement that may compromise the peace and order situation of the city," Mabilog stated in a post on his official Facebook page.
The barangays were also instructed to "collaborate with their respective district police stations in the maintenance of peace and order."
Mabilog asked the public to remain calm, but vigilant.
"There is no reported threat to the city. This is just a precautionary measure. Let's all stay alert and vigilant," he added. (Marites Villamor-Ilano/SunStar Philippines)