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Gunmen shot civilians as they begged for their lives


DEAD SPOT The bodies of nine people, including a policeman, lay on the ground and on the truck after they were ambushed by heavily armed men in La Castellana town in Negros Occidental. Nine others were reportedly wounded. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PNP

BACOLOD CITY—The civilians begged for their lives, but the gunmen didn’t care. They shot them all.

The brutality of it makes the survivors doubt that their attackers were communist New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas.

“It doesn’t seem they were NPA even if they yelled ‘Long live the NPA,’ because [NPA guerrillas] usually spare civilians,” said Avelino Ordoñez, 48, a village peacekeeper who survived the ambush on a truckload of policemen and villagers in Barangay Puso, La Castellana town, Negros Occidental, early on Sunday.

Kids allowed to go

Ronnie Lapiado, 41, a village volunteer and also a survivor of the attack, said that when the gunmen opened fire on the truck the passengers who were standing were hit but those who were sitting on the truck’s bed were not, because the bullets’ did not penetrate the vehicle’s sides.

Lapiado said the civilians called out to the gunmen, “We’re civilians, spare us.”

The gunmen ordered them to get off and lie face down on the ground, Lapiado said.

There were children in the group, but the gunmen allowed them to go, he said.

He said he took off his volunteer’s uniform and jumped off the truck.

Ordoñez did not take off his uniform and jumped off the vehicle with his wife, Virginia, and joined the rest who were lying on their stomachs on the ground.

Civilians shot

Virginia Ordoñez, 50, threw herself on her husband’s back to conceal his uniform, but the gunmen probably had already seen it.

They opened fire on the civilians, yelled “Long live the NPA,” and withdrew.

With his wife covering him with her body, Ordoñez survived the shooting. She did not.

Lapiado was wounded in the hands, but survived the attack.

He, too, doubted that the gunmen were NPA guerrillas because they shot the civilians.

Nine, including a policeman, were killed and 12 (not nine as earlier reported), including two police officers, were wounded in the ambush.

Lapiado said the group helped to secure a village dance contest in Puso on Saturday night. He said there were 22 people on the truck when they left the village after the dance.

But as they were leaving the village, civilians on foot, including children, asked for  a ride on the truck.

Lapiado said there were more than 30 people on the truck when the gunmen attacked the vehicle.

Senseless deaths

On Monday, Florencio Nilles, Puso village head, expressed sadness over the attack on the policemen and village volunteers who kept the peace during the fiesta in his community. He described the deaths as senseless.

“It is difficult for us in our village to understand how such a cruel crime could be committed,” Nilles said.

Ismael Villanueva, head of neighboring Cabacungan village, where some of the dead and wounded came from, said the victims were good men.

The policeman who was killed was a good man and the village peacekeepers worked as volunteers, he said.

La Castellana Mayor Alberto Nicor said it was a sad day for the town.

Originally posted: 6:21 pm | Monday, January 28th, 2013

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Tags: ambush , Communist Insurgency , Negros Occidental , Philippines - Regions , survivors’ accounts

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