LINGAYEN, Pangasinan — The border areas of Pangasinan with Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya are under close watch by the Philippine National Police (PNP) with the confirmation of recent sighting of a band of armed New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Eastern Pangasinan.
This was bared by Chief Inspector Norman Florentino, head of the police community relations of the Pangasinan Police Provincial Office (PPPO), who said the sighting prompted the police to beef up security in the the eastern borders of the province to thwart any surprise attack by the rebels.
Although the NPA rebels might just be passing by the province or seeking support from villagers in remote areas, the report cannot just be simply dismissed as the police and the military do not want to be caught off guard.
Fresh reports indicated eight armed rebels rebels, including one or two “amazons”, were spotted somewhere in remote Barangay Fianza, San Nicolas near the Nueva Vizcaya border where they allegedly asked for food from the residents and where they also rested overnight.
Admitting the Pangasinan police is still on full alert because of the fighting in Marawi City, Florentino said they are not taking the report lightly and in fact raised their alarm level status to thwart any possible NPA attack.
It is possible that the NPAs might just be passing to Pangasinan on their way to Nueva Vizcaya from Nueva Ecija but the police are not resting their guard a bit and are prepared for any eventuality, he said.
Meanwhile, a dialogue by the police between officials of the Pangasinan Muslim Assembly at the PPPO last week yielded fruitful result as the latter vowed to cleanse their ranks and their communities from any troublemaker.
The Muslim leaders pledged to work more closely with the police in Pangasinan by forming their own volunteer groups in charge of immediately alerting the police if any new faces are coming to their communities, said Florentino.
They will also issue identification cards to their own people as one way of flushing out troublemakers.
The Pangasinan police earlier anticipated that some residents from Marawi affected by the still ongoing fighting in their city might seek refuge with their relatives in Pangasinan.
Although a remote possibility, the police want to avoid a situation where some of the fleeing refugees might actually be with the Maute group who just disguised themselves as refugees. lvmicua/PNA-northboundasia.com