JUSTICE for the policemen killed in the ambush.

This was the call of at least 500 residents of Candoni, Negros Occidental who gathered at the public plaza Tuesday afternoon for a prayer vigil and candle lighting rites five days after the ambush staged by the New People’s Army (NPA) at boundary of Barangays Caningay and Poblacion East.

The attack claimed the lives of two policemen, and injured two others, and a civilian.

The residents condoled with the families of Police Officer 3 Joeharry Peralta, 38, of Kabankalan City, and PO1 Henry Pacheco, 30, of the said town.

Peralta and Pacheco, along with four other policemen, were on their way back to the station when the rebel fired at them near Panaculan Creek Bridge the night of February 18.

Injured were PO2 Jay Arroyo, 44, of Kabankalan City and PO1 Modesto Bina, 36, of Bacolod City and a civilian identified as Rey Duales.

Still in shock, Pacheco’s wife, Mary Rose, was crying for justice for her husband’s death.

During the vigil, a priest, a pastor, and a minister of another sect delivered messages of hope. They also prayed for the victims’ families and for peace in the town.

A town official, who requested anonymity, said they condemn the killings of the two policemen.

The councilor also said that the residents signed a position paper condemning the incident.

A mass for the victims will also be held near the ambush site at 11 a.m. today, the official added.

The Armando Sumayang Jr. Command of the NPA-Southwest Negros Island Front admitted on Monday that they perpetrated the ambush last week, as they accused the town policemen of being protectors of illegal gambling and illegal drug operations.

The accusation was vehemently denied by town police chief, Senior Inspector Varie Villanobos.

Tactical offensives

Andrea Guerrero, spokesperson of the Armando Sumayang Jr. Command, told Sun.Star Bacolod that they will continue to conduct more operations in the coming days.

“Our tactical offensives are part of our integrated tasks to slow down and stop the reactionary ruling system of comprador-landlords,” Guerrero said. “We aim to reach the strategic stalemate at the soonest possible time.”

Guerrero also slammed the Philippine Army for claiming that their forces are weakening in the province.

“Their declaration that the conflict in Negros is manageable is an advertising line to sell out Negros patrimony to multinational corporations and their local cohorts especially the financiers of President Benigno Aquino III which resulted to the displacement of peasants and indigenous people,” the NPA-Southwest Negros Island Front spokesperson added.

Ask on the existence of Oplan Jupiter, which aims to execute soldiers and law enforcers, Guerrero said that it’s another script authored by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to create an atmosphere of terror and to generate additional intelligence funds.

“Although as an institution, they are treated as enemy. As an individual, they are treated according to their deeds,” Guerrero added.