PNP Bicol on heightened alert after ambush of police convoy

LEGAZPI CITY — A cop was killed while six others were hurt early Saturday in an attack by a group of suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels that fired at two-vehicle police convoy in Barangay Daguit, Labo town in Camarines Norte.

The first volley of gunfire killed Police Officer 2 Richard Abad, a member of Camarines Norte Police Mobile Force, according to Senior Inspector Maria Luisa Calubaquib, spokesperson for the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bicol.

While PO2 Ronald Gutierrez, PO2 Ericson De Vera, PO1 Jeffrey Tarrobago, PO1 Pedro Valeros, PO1 Romar Umandap, and PO1 Johnson Espaṅa were hurt during the attack.

Calubaquib said the victims were among the nine policemen on board two police mobile service vehicles when attacked at around 1 a.m. Saturday by a band of NPAs while their vehicles were negotiating a road along Sitio Binuang, Barangay Daguit, Labo town.

The police convoy was on its way to the Police Mobile Force command station after holding internal security operation (ISO) in villages in Labo town.

Responding police and Army soldiers are now scouring the neighboring hinterland villages where the band of communist rebels is believed to have fled.

Calubaquib when asked on security measures taken with regards to the threat of Jose Marie Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, that New People’s Army (NPA) rebels would launch an intensified attack against government forces, she said the PNP in Bicol had been placed on “heightened” alert status — especially in areas considered as insurgency affected villages.

She said Chief Superintendent Antonio Gardiola, Bicol regional director, had issued a directive to all PNP stations across the region to be on “high alert” status under the agency’s intensified internal security operations.

Under the directive, police units were advised to stay on guard for a possible rebel attack on a 24/7 basis.

Police checkpoints would be intensified in known rebel-infested areas and they would also step up community partnership and police patrolling in communities.

The directive also calls for a closely-coordinated operation with the Armed Forces of the Philippines in securing vital installations such as roads, bridges, communication towers in key areas in Bicol.

She said the PNP is assuring the public that police and other government forces are on top of the situation.

However, Calubaquib said, “we are calling for the public to provide additional information and location of the fleeing perpetrators. Let’s not allow terror to reign in our community.” Mar Serrano/