Quezon town mourns deaths of 5 militiamen in NPA ambush
LUCENA CITY—Mayor Carlo Eleazar of Tagkawayan town in Quezon province on Monday ordered the Philippine flag at the municipal building flown at half-staff for one week to mourn the deaths of five government militiamen from his town who were killed in an attack by communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels on Sept. 1.
In his speech during the flag-raising program, Eleazar said the local government was recognizing the heroism of the five militiamen who lost their lives and their three other colleagues who were injured in the incident.
He also called for a peace and order council meeting to tackle the rebel attack, which he described as a “human-induced disaster,” as there had been no insurgency-related incident in his town in the last two decades until last Friday’s ambush.
On Sept. 1, a band of NPA rebels attacked a team of Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) and Army soldiers who were about to conduct a patrol in Sitio Pagasa in Barangay Mapulot at 7 a.m., the police and military reported.
The battle site was about 500 meters from the boundary of Tagkawayan and the town of Labo in Camarines Norte.
Five Cafgu members, all residents of the locality, were killed while two militiamen and an Army soldier were wounded during the assault.
Eleazar said it saddened him that shortly after the province was declared to be “insurgency-free,” the first act of violence by communist rebels in Quezon occurred in Tagkawayan.
“Our fellow citizens were the targets and victims. They were not regular soldiers,” the mayor said.
He noted that the NPA rebels were strangers in the locality who simply entered their town “to commit violence.”
“I and the local government strongly condemn the attack. The violence has no place in the town of Tagkawayan,” he stressed.
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), through public information officer Marco Valbuena, had claimed responsibility for the attack that it claimed was carried out by Red fighters from the NPA’s Apolonio Mendoza Command based in Quezon province and not from the Bicol region as reported by the police and military.
In June, the local government, police and military officials in Quezon declared the province free from the influence of communist insurgents.
They said the province had attained “stable internal peace and security” status, which meant that the CPP, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the NPA were no longer a threat to the peace and order in its localities.
According to Eleazar, the attack was a cause for mourning as the town have had no incident involving the communist rebels for the past 20 years.
“If there were any encounters before, it was just by chance. It was only now that a planned attack happened,” he said.
Eleazar vowed to provide assistance to the families of the slain militiamen and encouraged all local government officials and employees to pay their last respects to the slain militiamen. INQ