SAN NICOLAS, Pangasinan — The police in the 6th district of Pangasinan are now on full alert following an encounter between elements of the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) and about 20 New People’s Army (NPA) rebels between the remote barangays of Sta. Maria and Malico in San Nicolas town.
This was bared by Senior Supt. Ronald Oliver Lee, Pangasinan police provincial director, in a talk to newsmen Friday night, where he announced continuing pursuit operations against the NPA rebels.
Lee said the encounter occurred when elements of the RPSB were already going down at the end of their three-day combat operations in the mountainous area in the boundaries of Pangasinan with Benguet and Nueva Vizcaya.
One RSPB member was killed in the encounter and another was wounded. The dead was identified as PO2 Aries Tamondong and the wounded was PO2 Jonielon Marcos Bagcal.
The encounter site was along Camp 3 and 4 of the Villaverde Trail between Barangays Sta. Maria and Malico in San Nicolas.
Following the encounter, Chief Inspector Norman Florentino, chief of the police community relations of the Pangasinan Police Provincial Office, assured that the situation in San Nicolas is under control.
“The situation as of this time is normal. Hot pursuit and clearing operations at the site of the encounter and possible escape routes of the NPAs are still ongoing,” Florentino stated in his text message to PNA Dagupan on Friday.
He said augmentation personnel from the PNP and Philippine Army were already provided to ensure the maintenance of peace, order, safety and security of the public and in support of the LGU of San Nicolas.
Florentino was dismayed, however, by side stories which he described as a “hoax” being spread by some people in the social media that the San Nicolas Police Station was overrun by the dissidents.
Likewise, there were false stories like the one claiming the mayor of San Quintin town was abducted by the rebels and that students of the Sta. Maria National High School in San Nicolas were taken hostage, he said.
“These were all faux, gossips and rumors and dismissed these as “all black propaganda of the NPA,” he added.
Meanwhile, Senior Supt. Lee maintained that Pangasinan remains insurgency-free as those who clashed with elements of RPSB 1 were from the other side of the Pangasinan border.
He said when the Philippine Army operates in adjacent provinces, the rebels withdraw to the border areas of Pangasinan, which explained the reported sightings of NPA rebels a few days ago in remote barangays of San Nicolas town. Leonardo V. Micua/PNA-northboundasia.com