DUMAGUETE CITY – Six policemen, including a city police chief, and a civilian were killed in the daytime ambush staged by suspected Communist terrorists of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the mountain barangay of Magsaysay in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental on Friday.
Killed in action were Guihulngan City police chief, Supt. Arnel Arpon; PO2 Alfredo Dunque, PO2 Alvin Bolandres, PO3 Teovic Agusto, SPO2 Nicasio Tabilon and SPO1 Jesael Ancheta.
Supt. Carlos Lacuesta, deputy provincial police director for operations, also identified the wounded — PO3 Jordan Balderas, SPO4 Jerome Delara and SPO2 Jury Maribao, who were transported to a hospital here for treatment.
A civilian, the driver of a city councilor who earlier asked for police assistance, which resulted in the ambush, was also killed but he was yet to be identified.
Police investigation disclosed that Guihulngan City Councilor Edison Dela Rita called for police assistance Friday morning, saying that he was ambushed in Barangay Magsaysay.
Lacuesta said a team of about 15 police personnel headed by Supt. Arpon immediately responded on board their Mahindra police patrol vehicle around 10:00 a.m. Friday, with some on board motorcycles.
However, upon reaching Sitio Masid-e in Barangay Magsaysay, about 15 kilometers up in the mountains from the city proper, they were met by a volley of gunfire coming from different directions. Lacuesta said the perpetrators were Communist terrorists numbering about 60.
Further police investigation disclosed that the perpetrators carried with them at least two M-60 machine guns.
Lacuesta said at least five of the responding policemen, armed with M-16 and M-4 rifles, held their ground while calling for reinforcement.
It took hours before some of the bodies of the dead and the wounded could be extricated due to sniper fire from the Communist terrorists coming from different directions, said Lacuesta, a former Guihulngan police chief who also hails from that northern city.
Some were evacuated by “habal-habal,” or motorcycle-for-hire drivers, amidst the exchange of gunfire, said Lacuesta.
Acting provincial police director, Sr. Supt. Henry Biñas, proceeded to Guihulngan City to monitor the incident.
In a telephone interview, he disclosed that reinforcement from the Provincial Public Safety Company and other police units and the Philippine Army had arrived in the area.
Biñas said he has ordered all police stations to be extra vigilant to prevent similar attacks by the Communist terrorists.
Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Roderick Garcia, commander of the 79th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, said they are now conducting hot pursuit operations against the Communist terrorists.
Garcia said the 303rd Army brigade has also deployed soldiers to the area to prevent further atrocities.
The Army commander described the “Guihulngan massacre” as a planned attack by the Communist NPA terrorists.
Believed responsible for the ambush were combined forces of the NPA’s Central Negros Front and the Regional Strike Force, Garcia said.
According to Garcia, Friday’s attack against the Guihulngan police was part of a grand plan by the NPA to carry out atrocities in May, June and July.
In fact, the perpetrators had already previously killed this year a number of civilians believed to be “informants” of the Army, he said.
Biñas, meanwhile, disclosed that he personally fetched Councilor Dela Rita from the ambush area and brought him to the Guihulngan City police station for questioning.
Dela Rita suffered a minor injury on his head, apparently during the ambush. Judy Flores Partlow/PNA-northboundasia.com