FOUR days after the deadly ambush in Candoni town, the New People’s Army (NPA) admitted staging the attack on the patrol vehicle that claimed the lives of two policemen, and wounded two others and a civilian.
Andrea Guerrero, spokesperson of the Armando Sumayang Jr. Command of the NPA-Southwest Negros Island Front, in a statement released to the media Tuesday accused personnel of Candoni Municipal Police Station of being protectors of illegal gambling and illegal drug trade, citing the complaints of several residents.
The rebels said they were able to successfully stage the ambush because of the help of the residents.
Police Officer 3 Joeharry Peralta, 38, of Kabankalan City, and PO1 Henry Pacheco, 30, of Candoni.
PO2 Jay Arroyo, 44, of Kabankalan City and PO1 Modesto Bina, 36, of Bacolod City, and a civilian identified as Rey Duales were injured.
The six police officers were on their way back to the station after they responded to a stabbing incident in Barangay Caningay when they were fired upon by the NPA near the Panaculan Creek Bridge.
The injured civilian was not riding in the patrol car, but in a tricycle which happened to have reached the ambush zone at the time, the NPA said.
The rebels said they took two assault rifles, a .45 caliber pistol, and used bullets of M-16 rifles, and documents from the policemen.
The NPA said their members had safely withdrawn from the encounter.
This showed the failure of the intelligence work of the police and the local government of Candoni despite their substantial intelligence fund, the NPA claimed, adding that the government should have spent the intelligence fund instead for social services like agriculture, education, and health.
The police even failed to catch criminals involved in illegal gambling and illegal drugs, the statement said.
The NPA claimed that the ambush exposed the alleged internal feud and lack of coordination between the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army, which resulted to the delayed response during the ambush.
The rebels also urged the public not to ride in police patrol cars and army vehicles as they are the main targets of the NPA ambush, the statement added.
‘Boils down to intelligence’
Chief Superintendent Conrado Capa, director of Police Regional Office-Negros Island Region (NIR), admitted that they weren’t able to monitor the movement of the rebels.
It happened because there was poor intelligence, he said, adding that “it boils down to intelligence.”
He said they need to intensify their intelligence operation by involving the community since “the reports are coming from the townspeople.”
Capa added that he will discuss with Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. how to come up with the reward system for every information that results to positive operation.
He stressed that the police should maintain a good relation with the community to gain their cooperation.
Capa said the police are on full alert since January this year, which was reportedly the start of NPA’s Oplan Jupiter that aimed to execute or threaten soldiers and law enforcement personnel.
Asked if some policemen are included in the NPA hitlist, Capa said that he doesn’t know if there’s a hitlist, but admitted that there’s always a threat.
“We always have to assume there’s a threat. Everyone is a target, we have to protect ourselves, and we have to be conscious of our environment,” the PRO-NIR chief said, as he directed his men not to let their guards down.
He said they recently conducted a security survey of all the police stations in the region to identify if there are weak spots.
“The thing that saddens me the most is that these men are eager to help and you (NPA) killed them,” Capa said.
“Nasaan ang inyong kaluluwa? (Where are your souls)” he asked, adding that the rebels could have ran after those mobile forces that are hunting them down.
He lamented that the ambushed policemen have no fault, and that they were only serving the public.
“I’m angry,” Capa said.
Senior Inspector Varie Villanobos, Candoni town police chief, dismissed the claims of the NPA that they are involved in illegal activities.
“Their allegations are not true,” he said.
A prayer vigil and candle lighting rites for the ambush victims will be held today at the town plaza, Villanobos said.