MANILA, Philippines–The axe has fallen on two senior officials of the Philippine National Police following the ambush carried out by communist rebels in a far-flung village in Allapacan, Cagayan on Monday that left eight police commandos dead and seven others wounded.
Sacked were Senior Inspector Ronnie Albino, chief of the 24th Special Action Company of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF), and Superintendent Nestor Lobos, commander of SAF’s 2nd Special Action Battalion.
Albino was the direct superior of the 15-member SAF unit who were waylaid by New People’s Army rebels after the vehicle they were riding was hit by a landmine explosion set off by the insurgents.
Director Carmelo Valmoria, SAF commander, on Tuesday said he ordered the immediate relief of the two police officials pending the result of the investigation into their possible administrative liability over the incident.
“Their administrative relief is part of our ongoing investigation into this NPA attack,” Valmoria told reporters in a mobile phone interview.
Contrary to some reports in the media that they were still undergoing training, he said the policemen were all regular SAF personnel who had completed the police commando course.
He said the policemen had been regularly patrolling the area where the attack took place since they were deployed in Allapacan from Abra province last January.
“It’s really sad that they had to sacrifice their lives. But we have to accept (that possibility) when we took our oath as policemen. That’s what we have to give up to be able to serve… our country,” Valmoria said.
“This is a lesson for us and we have to learn from it. It has only strengthened our resolve to protect our country from the enemies of the state, particularly the communist-terrorists,” he added.
Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II condemned the attack, saying such “kind of savagery that has no place in our society.”
“I strongly condemn this grisly attack by the NPA rebels,” Roxas said in a statement.
“This makes the attack all the more shocking and senseless since it was premeditated and carried out without provocation,” he said.
Calling the fallen policemen “heroes of the people,” Roxas ordered the immediate release of the financial benefits due to casualties.
He said the families of the slain SAF commando would each receive at least P680,000 in death benefits, including P250,000 from the President’s Social Fund.
Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo, PNP spokesperson, said the families of the slain policemen would receive as much as P2 million each and at least P15,000 a month as lifetime pension from the PNP.
Roxas said the wounded police personnel would also get P170,000 in medical benefits.