BACOLOD (Updated) -- Six policemen and a civilian were killed in an ambush staged by suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental Friday morning.
The Police Regional Office (PRO)-Negros Island identified the fatalities as Guihulngan City police chief Superintendent Arnel Arpon, Senior Police Officer 2 (SPO2) Mecasio Tabilon, SPO2 Chavic Agosto, SPO1 Jesael Ancheta, PO2 Alvin Paul Bulandres, and PO2 Alfredo Dunque.
Three policemen were also wounded in the attack. They were identified as SPO4 Jerome Delara, PO3 Jordan Balderas and PO2 Jorie Maribao.
Senior Inspector Armilyn Vargas, PRO-Negros Island spokesperson, said Guihulngan City Councilor Edison de la Rita called for police assistance Friday morning, saying that he was ambushed in Barangay Magsaysay.
His aide, Michael Jambalos was killed.
Superintendent Carlos Lacuesta Jr., deputy provincial police director for operations and officer-in-charge of Guihulngan City Police Station, said a team of about 15 police personnel headed by the city police chief immediately responded on board a police patrol vehicle around 10 a.m., with some on board motorcycles.
However, upon reaching Sitio Masid-e in Barangay Magsaysay, the policemen were ambushed by about 60 NPA rebels, armed with at least two M60 machine guns.
Lacuesta said at least five of the responding policemen, armed with M16 and M4 rifles, held their ground while calling for reinforcement.
It took hours before some of the bodies and the wounded could be extricated due to sniper fire from the rebels coming from different directions, Lacuesta said, adding that some were evacuated by habal-habal drivers, amid the exchange of gunfire.
Senior Superintendent Henry Biñas, acting director of Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office, proceeded to Guihulngan City to monitor the incident.
Biñas said that reinforcement from the Provincial Public Safety Company and other police units and the Philippine Army had arrived in the area. He said he personally fetched Councilor De la Rita and his driver from the ambush area and brought them to the Guihulngan City Police Office for questioning.
De la Rita suffered a minor injury on his head, apparently during the
Lieutenant Colonel Roderick Garcia, commander of the 79th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, said they are conducting hot pursuit operations against the rebels.
The night before the ambush incident in Guihulngan, soldiers also engaged in a firefight with about 10 suspected rebels at Sitio Tinuyukan, Barangay Marcelo in Calatrava, Negros Occidental around 10:50 p.m.
Chief Inspector John Joel Batusbatusan, town police chief, said the government forces recovered from the encounter site documents, 35 live ammunition of M14, a .45 caliber pistol with magnum and seven live ammunition, two M16 short and long firearms, 46 live ammunition of M16, six live ammunition of .9mm, two .40 caliber, blank ammunition of M16, M203, medicine kits, and hammocks.
For his part, Colonel Eliezer Losañes, commander of Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade, said they added more troops to Guihulngan while they remain on full alert.
Losañes said in press statement the barbaric acts of the rebels will not go unpunished.
“We will continue to conduct pursuit operation to give justice to our law enforcers who are simply performing their duties. This action of the NPA simply shows their true nature, that they are indeed terrorists, and that they continue to deceive the people to advance their selfish interests,” Losañes added.
‘Bring to justice’
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) vowed to track down and bring to justice the rebels who killed and wounded its police officers in Guihulngan.
Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos, spokesperson of PNP, said they strongly condemn the latest rebel atrocity.
He added that the PNP will not stop until the perpetrators are made to answer for the crime. (with reports from PNA)