2 cops, 2 others hurt in Masbate ambush
MASBATE CITY, Philippines—An Army helicopter airlifted on Monday morning to a hospital in Albay the two policemen and a civilian who were hurt in an ambush in Palanas, Masbate on Sunday, said a Commission on Election official in the province.
Kaye Nuñez, assistant election officer of Comelec-Masbate, said the fourth person wounded in the attack, Palanas election officer Merlinda Alvarez, was brought to Legazpi City, ahead of the three, through a fastcraft, on Sunday night, and has been confined at the government-run Bicol Regional Teaching and Training Hospital (BRTTH) in Daraga, Albay.
Nuñez said the three – Police Officer 1 Benito Bailon Jr., Police Officer 1 Wilbert Pultino and civilian Joey Villaruel – arrived in Legazpi City at around 10:30 a.m. and were also taken to BRTTH.
The four victims all needed to undergo surgery to remove the bullets lodged in their bodies, mostly in the abdomen and lower leg, after they were waylaid by a group of armed men in Barangay Parina, Palanas town shortly before noon on Sunday, said Nuñez.
She said they requested that the victims be brought to Albay because they believed they could get the best care there.
Nuñez said Alvarez had to undergo surgery to remove the bullet that was lodged in her torso.
Captain Mardjorie Panesa, public information officer of the Philippine Army’s 9th Infantry Division, said their initial investigation showed the Alvarez and her companions were ambushed by suspected New People’s Army rebels.
“The victims were surrounded from higher ground by the perpetrators, which made it hard for the Army to determine the number of assailants,” said Captain Arthur Eamiguel of 903rd Infantry Brigade in Masbate.
He said the attack occurred just as Alvarez, Villaruel and their police escorts were returning to the municipal police station after dropping off election paraphernalia to polling precincts in Parina and after holding a dialogue with the villages’ candidates led by reelectionist barangay chairman Reynaldo Atibagos.
Eamiguel clarified the victims were riding a vehicle owned by the Comelec, and were not on foot as earlier reported, when ambushed.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.