By: Jennifer P. Rendon and Dolly Yasa
THE Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) said it is gearing for future clashes with the New People’s Army (NPA) even as six police officers, including a chief of police, were killed in an ambush by suspected communist rebels.
The 3ID said it strengthened its offensive and defensive stances as President Rodrigo Duterte announced the cessation of peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Captain Eduardo Precioso Jr., 3ID Division Public Affairs Office (DPAO) chief, said that they are still on red alert.
“We have never waned in our campaign against insurgency. Even before our President’s pronouncement, we have been intensifying our offensive and defensive operations because the rebels do atrocities even when the peace talks were still ongoing,” he added.
But with the President’s announcement that he would not pursue the peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front), Precioso said that they will undertake additional actions and security measures.
“But we have to wait for the command guidance from the higher headquarters,” he added.
Without going into details, Precioso said they would further strengthen vital installations and military camps and detachments in the 3ID’s areas of responsibility.
They also asked the business sectors to also strengthen their security measures to avert any possible NPA atrocities.
On Thursday, Duterte told soldiers in Marawi City that the rebels owed him a huge debt and cited that they have killed many policemen and soldiers already.
Earlier, the government also scrapped backchannel negotiations with the CPP after its armed wing, the NPA, made offensive attacks in some areas of the country.
On Wednesday, the NPA rebels were accused of waylaying a convoy of the Presidential Security Group (PSG), killing a militiaman and wounding four PSG personnel in North Cotabato province.
Also, Solicitor General Jose Calida in Thursday revealed that he plan to ask the cancellation of bail bonds and seek the arrest of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultants earlier released for the peace talks.
On July 21, the chief of Guihulngan City police and five other cops were killed in an ambush allegedly staged by the NPA at Sitio Mandi-e, Barangay Magsaysay, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental at around 10:30 a.m.
Supt. Arnel Arpon, Guihulngan City police chief, and five subordinates were gunned down while to a call for assistance from a city councilor who was first ambushed by more or less 30 suspected NPA rebels.
Aside from Arpon, also killed in the ambush were SPO2 Mecasio Tabilon, SPO1 Jesael Ancheta, PO2 Alvin Paul Bulandres, PO2 Alfredo Dunque, and SPO2 Chavic Agosto.
The wounded police officers were SPO4 Jerome Delara, PO2 Jorie Maribao and PO3 Jordan Balderas.
Senior Inspector Amilyn Vargas, spokesperson of the Negros Island Region Police Office, said Guihulngan City Councilor Edison de la Rita was waylaid at Brgy. Magsaysay, Guihulngan City at around 9:45 a.m.
Edward Jimenez, an employee of the Guihulngan City government, reported the incident to the police station.
Arpon then organized a 15-member team to respond to the ambush but they were met by a hail of bullets on their way to the ambush site.
Vargas said they are still confirming if civilians were hurt or killed in the ambush.
Senior Supt. Rodolfo Castil, Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office acting director, confirmed the incident but declined to elaborate as firefight is reportedly still going on.
Castil told The Daily Guardian in a phone interview that he personally knows Arpon his underclass at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA).
He said Arpon was a good police officer and had bright future in the PNP.
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