4 cops killed in NPA attack
DIGOS CITY—Police and military officials have tagged the New People’s Army (NPA) behind the ambush that killed four policemen and wounded another in Bansalan town in Davao del Sur province on Wednesday.
The attack happened a day after President Duterte said the government was doing back-channel talks with communist leaders for the possible resumption of the peace talks.
Senior Supt. Samuel Gadingan, Davao del Sur police director, said a team of policemen from Bansalan and from the Scene of Crime Operatives’ (Soco) provincial office was headed to the upland village of Sibayan in Bansalan at 6 a.m to investigate a murder incident when armed men, believed to be NPA rebels, fired at their vehicles.
Killed were Police Officers 1 Rolly Belayo, Joe Narvasa and Saro Mangutara of the Bansalan police, and PO3 Jayden May Rabor of the Davao del Sur Soco. Wounded was PO3 Allen Arnado.
Gadingan said the policemen, aboard a patrol car and another vehicle, were about 100 meters from their destination in Sibayan when they were attacked.
President Duterte, on Tuesday, said the government had been doing back-channel talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to discuss the possible resumption of peace negotiations, which he suspended on Feb. 4 following NPA attacks in Mindanao.
Lt. Col. Marion Angcao, commander of the Army’s 73rd Infantry Battalion, said Sibayan village chair Eddie Dicdican reported to the police a murder incident in his village on Tuesday.
“The police were only able to respond to the report [on Wednesday] because it was already Tuesday night when they received the report,” Angcao said.
Both the police and the military said it was likely that the NPA was behind the ambush because it was the only armed group known to be operating in the area.
“Prior to the ambush, there had been reported sightings of NPA rebels in nearby communities,” Angcao said.
He said the ambush was staged after soldiers clashed with rebels in Barangay Alegre on Feb. 25 when the military took over a major NPA camp in the village.
Lt. Col. Harold Argamosa, commander of the 39th Infantry Battalion in Makilala, a town in North Cotabato province adjacent to Bansalan, said the military deployed troops to pursue the suspects. Bansalan shares borders with Makilala and Kidapawan City, where the NPA’s Front Committee 51 is known to operate.
In Quezon province, four suspected NPA rebels were killed in a clash with government troops in San Andres town on Tuesday.
Col. Lenard Agustin, commander of the Army’s 201st Infantry Brigade, said a team of 18 soldiers engaged at least 20 rebels in a 30-minute gunfight in Barangay Mabunga on Tuesday afternoon.
Agustin said the military was informed about the presence of armed men who were soliciting food and other forms of support in the village.
He said soldiers arrested a rebel after the fire fight. He declined to identify the rebel but said he was from Barangay Burgos in Mulanay town.
Agustin said soldiers found a 22-year-old woman, who had a bullet wound in her left arm, near the encounter site.
“We’ve already established her identity. But we will still question her presence in the encounter site. Why was she there?” Agustin said.
He said the woman was taken to a hospital in Camp Nakar in Lucena City.
Soldiers recovered five rifles and a grenade launcher from the clash site. —WITH REPORTS FROM WILLIAMOR MAGBANUA AND DELFIN T. MALLARI JR.
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