ILOILO City – Over a week after losing seven comrades to the police and military in Barangay Atabay, San Jose, Antique, the New People’s Army (NPA) ambushed a platoon of policemen in Barangay Isian Victoria, Leon, Iloilo. Three policemen were injured.
Troops of the Iloilo Police Provincial Office’s 1st Provincial Mobile Force Company were on patrol when some 20 NPA rebels set off a command-detonated landmine and started firing at the policemen around 6:20 a.m. yesterday.
The three injured policemen were platoon leader Chief Inspector Abner Jordan, Police Officer 2 Rosenie Lebuna and Police Officer 1 Mark Ringo Fernando.
The mobile force company repelled the rebels after some 20 minutes of gunfight, said Senior Superintendent Marlon Tayaba, police provincial director.
He also believed the police managed to hit the rebels. Villagers of Barangay Isian Victoria reported having seen the fleeing rebels carrying two injured members, he said.
The Police Regional Office 6 condemned the NPA attack. Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao, regional police director, described the rebels as “national terrorists.”
He also said the rebels’ use of landmine was a “gross violation” of Republic Act 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity, as well as the Ottawa Treaty banning the use of landmines “whether improvised or not.”
“We enjoin the public to be more vigilant and report to the police all crimes committed by this group so they could be arrested,” said Bulalacao.
On Aug. 15 combined forces of the San Jose, Antique police station, Antique Provincial Mobile Force Company and the Philippine Army’s 301st Brigade Intelligence Task Group killed seven rebels in Barangay Atabay, San Jose. The casualties were members of the NPA’s taxation group extorting money from the locals, said Bulalacao.
According to Tayaba, 1st Provincial Mobile Force Company decided to conduct a patrol in Barangay Isian Victoria following complaints from villagers that the rebels were on an extortion spree there.
“We ask the communist national terrorists to cease in their evil acts, to reform and return to the folds of law, embrace the harmony of a peaceful family life and do their share in nation-building,” said Bulalacao.
As of this writing, the mobile force company was conducting a hot pursuit operation against the rebels in the hinterlands of Leon.
Following the operation in Barangay Atabay, San Jose, Antique, Bulalacao ordered all police stations in the region to beef up their security. He was wary of retaliatory attacks from the NPA.
From the encounter site in Barangay Isian Victoria, Leon the police recovered 36 spent bullet shells of M16 rifles, a .45 pistol with seven live ammunitions, 12 spent bullet shells of M14 rifles, a double AA battery, a magazine, electric wires, and a penlight.
According to Tayaba, the three policemen were injured by shrapnels from the NPA’s improvised command-detonated landmine.
But the injuries were not serious, he stressed. The three received first aid treatment and need not be hospitalized.
“The instruction to all municipal police chiefs, including city and provincial police directors, is to be alert. Do not leave the police stations unmanned. Do not relax. Dapat alerto palagi ang mga pulis natin. Ayaw ko ng tulog na pulis, especially sa mga areas na rebel-infested,” said Bulalacao.
In Iloilo province, the PRO-6 identified 15 police stations vulnerable to rebel attacks. These are in the towns of San Joaquin, Guimbal, Miag-ao, Tubungan, Igbaras, Alimodian, Leon, Calinog, Maasin, Bingawan, Badiangan, San Enrique, San Rafael, and Lemery, and the component city of Passi./PN