THE Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (Noppo) officer-in-charge identified Thursday the attackers who killed nine persons in La Castellana town as members of the “Larangan Guerilla 1” of the New People’s Army (NPA).
Senior Superintendent Celestino Guara said during the case conference at Noppo Wednesday that the suspects, based on investigations, were NPA members who, at the same time, are residents of Barangay Puso, where the ambush happened.
He said some of them were also from Negros Oriental, particularly operating in Central Negros.
Guara said they already have the identities of the 15 to 20 suspects, but they are still validating the suspects’ participation in the incident.
Murder charges will be filed as soon as possible against the suspects, assured Guara.
He said the identities of the suspects were determined through intelligence efforts of the Philippine National Police and Army.
Killed in the ambush last Sunday were Police Officer (PO) 1 Richard Canja, a resident of Barangay Cabacungan, La Castellana, who sustained a gunshot wound in his head; Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT) members Ulysses Tamayor, Jonathan Mateo and Ramir Complesa; civilians Virginia Ordonez and Lito Lucban, all of Barangay Cabacungan; civilian driver Ricky Dingcong; and barangay tanods (village watchmen) Mario Ricablanca and Tiotimo Esplegera of Barangay Puso.
Wounded were PO3 Constantino Villegas, PO2 Jeffrey Alvarez, Bonifacio Bayate, Cristoto Perolino, Jerry Lacquedo, Roger Bajar, Jamil Roma, Victoriano Donasco, Jason Ocsimar, all residents of Barangay Cabacungan.
The victims were on board a canter truck used by the policemen and the BPATs who were requested to secure the benefit dance as part of the fiesta celebration of Barangay Puso when they were waylaid.
Guara said that based on the statement of the witnesses, some NPA members were also wounded when PO2 Alvarez returned fire. He said the two cops are now in stable condition.
He added that based on the intelligence report of the Army, the suspects used high-powered firearms identified with the NPA rebels who were transported from within the Visayas area.
He said they recovered from the crime scene about 100 empty shells of assorted high-powered firearms, including from AK 47 assault rifle, a firearm identified with the rebel group.
Guara also said that 302nd Infantry Brigade will put up a detachment and assign additional Army personnel in Barangay Puso to secure the safety of the residents against the presence of the NPA.